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Am J Public Health. 1999 Nov;89(11):1658-66.

Ethnicity, bioethics, and prenatal diagnosis: the amniocentesis decisions of Mexican-origin women and their partners.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1759, USA. browner@ucla.edu

Abstract

Bioethical standards and counseling techniques that regulate prenatal diagnosis in the United States were developed at a time when the principal constituency for fetal testing was a self-selected group of White, well-informed, middle-class women. The routine use of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) testing, which has become widespread since the mid-1980s, introduced new constituencies to prenatal diagnosis. These new constituencies include ethnic minority women, who, with the exception of women from certain Asian groups, refuse amniocentesis at significantly higher rates than others. This study examines the considerations taken into account by a group of Mexican-origin women who had screened positive for AFP and were deciding whether to undergo amniocentesis. We reviewed 379 charts and interviewed 147 women and 120 partners to test a number of factors that might explain why some women accept amniocentesis and some refuse. A woman's attitudes toward doctors, medicine, and prenatal care and her assessment of the risk and uncertainty associated with the procedure were found to be most significant. Case summaries demonstrate the indeterminacy of the decision-making process. We concluded that established bioethical principles and counseling techniques need to be more sensitive to the way ethnic minority clients make their amniocentesis choices.

PMID:
10553385
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1508988
Free PMC Article
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