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J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Mar;28(1):37-48.

Pregnancy interrupted: loss of a desired pregnancy after diagnosis of fetal anomaly.

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Rutgers University, State University of New Jersey, School of Social Work, NJ 08102-1519, USA.


Prenatal diagnostic techniques both enable and force women and couples to make decisions about whether to continue a pregnancy where the fetus has an anomaly. Few studies have explored the decision-making and bereavement processes of women who terminate a desired pregnancy after the discovery of a fetal anomaly. This reports the qualitative results of a study designed to explore these processes while placing them within the context of the societal milieu. Findings are reported as themes that emerged from the 30 intensive interviews conducted with women at varying stages after this experience. These include mythical expectations based on denial that anomaly could occur, misconceptions about the nature of prenatal testing and inaccurate expectations about the experience and duration of grief. Further, the contradictory norms in society are defined as creating additional dilemmas for women as they attempt to gain support and understanding following their loss. Suggestions for how providers may assist women with their grief are incorporated.

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