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Is current practice around late termination of pregnancy eugenic and discriminatory? Maternal interests and abortion


The attitudes of Australian practitioners working in clinical genetics and obstetrical ultrasound were surveyed on whether termination of pregnancy (TOP) should be available for conditions ranging from mild to severe fetal abnormality and for non-medical reasons.These were compared for terminations at 13 weeks and 24 weeks. It was found that some practitioners would not facilitate TOP at 24 weeks even for lethal or major abnormalities, fewer practitioners support TOP at 24 weeks compared with 13 weeks for any condition, and the difference in attitudes to TOP between 13 weeks and 24 weeks is most marked for pregnancies which are normal or involve a mild disorder.

It is argued that a fetal abnormality criterion for late TOP is inconsistently applied, discriminatory and eugenic. Four possible moral justifications for current practice are examined, each of which would require significant changes to current practice. I argue in favour of a maternal interests criterion for any TOP.

  • Termination of pregnancy
  • abortion
  • eugenics
  • clinical genetics

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