Prenatal Abortion

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The American Journal of Bioethics, 9(8): 48–56, 2009 Copyright c Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1526-5161 print / 1536-0075 online DOI: 10.1080/15265160902984996

Target Article

Prenatal Diagnosis and Abortion for Congenital Abnormalities: Is It Ethical to Provide One Without the Other? Angela Ballantyne, Donaghue Initiative in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Ethics, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale University/ISPS Ainsley J. Newson, Centre for Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol Florencia Luna, Independent Researcher, and Director of the Area of Bioethics, Buenos Aires, Argentina Richard Ashcroft, Queen Mary, University of London This target article considers the ethical implications of providing prenatal diagnosis (PND) and antenatal screening services to detect fetal abnormalities in jurisdictions that prohibit abortion for these conditions. This unusual health policy context is common in the Latin American region. Congenital conditions are often untreated or under-treated in developing countries due to limited health resources, leading many women/couples to prefer termination of affected pregnancies. Three potential harms derive from the provision of PND in the absence of legal and safe abortion for these conditions: psychological distress, unjust distribution of burdens between socio-economic classes, and financial burdens for families and society. We present Iran as a comparative case study where recognition of these ethical issues has led to the liberalization of abortion laws for fetuses with thalassemia. We argue that physicians, geneticists and policymakers have an ethical and professional duty of care to advocate for change in order to ameliorate these harms. Keywords: abortion, fetal abnormality, Latin America, prenatal diagnosis, reproductive ethics, women

INTRODUCTION Since the mid 1990’s, the provision of medical genetic services in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Brazil has increased...
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