Prenatal Diagnosis

pp 157-172

Parents’ reactions to termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormality: from a mother’s point of view

  • Helen Statham

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The aim of prenatal diagnosis is to determine whether or not a fetus has an abnormality. Most parents undergoing testing are told that their baby is not affected by the disorders which have been looked for. Parents told that their unborn baby is malformed have a number of options. The main choices are between terminating or continuing the pregnancy, with additional choices for those who continue which may include considering the time, place and method of delivery, treatment and whether or not to keep the child or place him or her for adoption. It is unlikely, however, that prenatal diagnosis would have been resourced in the way it is just to give parents reassurance, or if most parents with an abnormality chose to continue the pregnancy. The ‘enormous potential for the avoidance of serious genetic disease and congenital malformation’ (Weatherall, 1992) can only be realized in most cases if women who conceive fetuses with such a genetic disease or malformation terminate the pregnancy.