Psychological Aspects of Individualized Choice and Reproductive Autonomy in Prenatal Screening

10 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2014

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

Probably the main purpose of reproductive technologies is to enable people who choose to do so to avoid the birth of a baby with a disabling condition. However the conditions women want information about and the ‘price’ they are willing to pay for obtaining that information vary enormously. Individual women have to arrive at their own prenatal testing choices by ‘trading off’ means and ends in order to resolve the dilemmas facing them. We know very little about how individuals make these trade‐offs, so it is difficult to predict how new technologies will affect their choices and preferences. Uptake decisions can be expected to change, especially in the group of women who now are put off by some aspect of the current screening approach, where the avoidance of miscarriage risk may have provided a kind of ‘psychological shelter’, protecting a lot of people from having to make other decisions. Technologies such as Pre‐implantation Genetic Diagnosis may remove a second ‘psychological shelter’ because they offer the means of avoiding the birth of an affected child without terminating a pregnancy. Even if new technologies will make some decisions easier in terms of their cognitive demands, they will also create new dilemmas and decision making will not necessarily become less stressful in emotional terms. Key challenges concern information and decision‐making.

Keywords: Prenatal screening, women's perspectives, individualized choice

Suggested Citation

Hewison, Jenny, Psychological Aspects of Individualized Choice and Reproductive Autonomy in Prenatal Screening (January 2015). Bioethics, Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 9-18, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2539733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bioe.12124

Jenny Hewison (Contact Author)

University of Leeds ( email )

Leeds, LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

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