; Informed Consent or Institutionalized Eugenics? How the Medical Profession Encourages Abortion of Fetuses with Down Syndrome
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Informed Consent or Institutionalized Eugenics? How the Medical Profession Encourages Abortion of Fetuses with Down Syndrome

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Many women are unprepared to make prenatal decisions about fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome because of societal pressures to have "normal" children, a negative view of persons with disabilities by many in society, a fear of legal liability by those in the medical community, the lack of genuine informed consent before undergoing genetic testing and abortion, and the failure of non-directive pre-abortion counseling in the medical community. Moreover, medical professionals fail to communicate correct and unbiased information before and during the genetic screening, diagnostic testing, and abortion decision-making process. This article addresses the contributing factors and causes that ultimately lead to a lack of informed consent and a very high abortion rate for fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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									     Informed Consent or
  Institutionalized Eugenics?
  How the Medical Profession
    Encourages Abortion of
 Fetuses with Down Syndrome
                                   Darrin P. Dixon, J.D.*
ABSTRACT: Many women are unprepared to make prenatal decisions
about fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome because of societal pres-
sures to have “normal” children, a negative view of persons with disabili-
ties by many in society, a fear of legal liability by those in the medical
community, the lack of genuine informed consent before undergoing
genetic testing and abortion, and the failure of non-directive pre-abortion
counseling in the medical community. Moreover, medical professionals
fail to communicate correct and unbiased information before and during
the genetic screening, diagnostic testing, and abortion decision-making
process. This article addresses the contributing factors and causes that
ultimately lead to a lack of informed consent and a very high abortion
rate for fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
                                     ___________________
      There are numerous contributing factors to what some may call a high termina-
tion rate of fetuses that have tested positive for Down Syndrome. One major factor
is the direct and indirect influences of medical professionals, which include genetic
counselors, family physicians and obstetricians and gynecologists. In this article, I
     * B.A., University of Pittsburgh, summa cum laude, 2005; J.D., University of Pittsburgh School of
Law, 2008. I wish to thank professors Elizabeth Gettig, Elizabeth A. Balkite, and Ellen Wright Clayton
for answering numerous questions and providing insight into the world of genetic counseling. I am
deeply grateful to professors Ann Sinscheimer, Stella L. Smetanka, and Kevin Deasy of the Univer-
sity of Pittsburgh School of Law for their encouragement, suggestions and feedback throughout the
research and writing of this article. I owe a great deb
								
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