Prenatal Testing: Choice, Consent, Conformity? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 6 Old 03-19-2007, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I found this excellent article on the development and necessity of prenatal testing and its effects on women and aspects of our culture including social perceptions of disability (by Abby LIPMAN, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Epidemiology Mcgill University, Montreal, Canada).

http://www.ohiostatepress.org/Books/...20Women/04.pdf

It's a bit long but very enlightening and, whatever your choice or views, provides a lot to think about. A few provocative quotes:

If, then, reassurance is produced following prenatal diagnosis, it is, at best, an acquired rather than inherent characteristic of testing, tranquilizing women who have first been made fearful.

Prenatal genetic testing, already called a ritual for (white, middle-class) women older than 35 (Rapp, 1988), may actually threaten women's well-being with the circumstances of its use making it resemble an addiction: the practice is socially determined, it satisfies a need to feel good with a fix, it creates dependency, and it provides substitute gratification. Evidence of this addiction appears in stories that describe testing as a way to release a woman to enjoy her pregnancy, high with the reassurance that the fetus does not have Down syndrome. It appears when women come to depend on testing because they are told it will provide a healthy baby. And it appears in the photograph or videotape of her ultrasound scan proudly displayed by a pregnant woman that functions as a technological substitute for the changes in her body and feelings that might once have satisfied her about her pregnancy.

Prenatal testing for women 35 and older . . . reshapes the "older woman" by its reliance on chronological age or its equivalent as a principal criterion for fetal diagnosis. It implies that this sole feature is all that matters about a woman and conveys the message that after some arbitrary age she is a failure.
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#2 of 6 Old 03-19-2007, 12:41 AM
 
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The article seems to assume that Down syndrome is the only abnormality being tested for. That seems to be the common stereotype of prenatal testing, but it isn't the whole story.
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#3 of 6 Old 03-19-2007, 01:03 AM
 
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I totally agree with that article -- even though I consider myself really crunchy and I'm a doula and a feminist, I still felt totally reassured when I saw the hb and then I was like, dammit, why can't I just trust my body???? Gah.

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#4 of 6 Old 03-19-2007, 01:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No, not at all, tamagotchi, and she acknowledges that. As she says, she just uses that as a main example becuase it's the most commonly screened for abnormality, and one which often prompts elective abortion... And I want to make clear, too, that she asserts that her article is not a judgment or criticism of women who choose prenatal testing for a host of reasons, but a criticism for the rampant and oftentime unnecessary use of such testing and how its use affects our views and experiences of pregnancy.

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Originally Posted by tamagotchi View Post
The article seems to assume that Down syndrome is the only abnormality being tested for. That seems to be the common stereotype of prenatal testing, but it isn't the whole story.
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#5 of 6 Old 03-19-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this... 26 pages is a bit of a daunting read for me, but I hope to look through it.

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#6 of 6 Old 03-20-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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Ah, yes, another way that women are convinced that technology (and only technology) will give them a healthy baby.
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