Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Study: Prenatal Screening Procedure Lacks Moral Reflection

I am so glad someone took up this subject. An abstract of a study from Iceland:

We use interviews with Icelandic prospective parents in early pregnancy (N = 40) and material covering the discourse around prenatal screening in the media over 5 years period. Our analysis indicates that both prospective parents and the public media include ethical terms in their rhetoric around prenatal screening although those concepts differ in their expression. We conclude that the context in which these decisions are taken does not encourage moral reflection. Prospective parents describe that there is a lack of dialogue with professionals when decisions are made about screening. With routine offer of screening the conceptualization of bioethical concepts finds its own way through a mainstream discourse which has limited connections to the theoretical notions. This has been neglected in the implementation of screening, as limited effort has been subject to audit with reference to explore how the offer of screening and informed choice is experienced among prospective parents.

The parents are given the diagnosis, and the doctors emphasize that the parents have a right to terminate. So that's what they think they must do, and as a knee-jerk reaction many of them want to pursue that option because they want this over and done with as soon as possible.

Nobody offers their babies palliative care. No one tells them that seeing their baby born and then dying peacefully in one's arms can be psychologically reassuring. Nobody tells them about how people who are afflicted with that condition sometimes go on to have happy and productive lives.

They just get stats and dry prognoses that don't necessarily have anything to do with real life.