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April 12, 1995

Prenatal Testing: A Sociological Perspective

Author Affiliations

New York University New York, NY

JAMA. 1995;273(14):1155-1156. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380091045

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Over the past decade, a bioethics industry has developed to explore the moral ambiguities fundamental to our increased technological ability to predict genetic disease. Prenatal testing is now routinely recommended for pregnant women who are in their mid-30s and older or who have family histories of serious congenital and genetic disease. The techniques for testing and the range of what tests can predict have been rapidly expanding, exacerbating the ethical dilemmas involved in acting on the accessibility of predictive information.

In their book Prenatal Testing Kolker and Burke have approached the much debated moral dilemmas from a sociological perspective. Their intention is to explore "how prenatal diagnosis has been shaped by social forces and, in turn, has profoundly influenced the social construction of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood."

They have provided a useful review of currently available procedures, including not only amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and ultrasound, but also more recent

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