Public Opinion About Fetal Testing
By Bryan Caplan
If you’re having a high-risk pregnancy, it’s pretty obvious that you’ll be more likely to have your fetus tested for birth defects and other problems. But is risk the only factor that predicts demand for fetal testing? Nope. Here’s an interesting abstract from a study of 612 women (2/3 high risk, 1/3 low risk):
As expected, traditional risk status predicted desire for screening and also invasive testing following either a negative or positive screen. Yet, controlling for risk status, many psychosocial variables predicted a women’s interest in screening and in invasive testing: more knowledge about prenatal testing, concern about fetal health, willingness to terminate a pregnancy, and an internal or medical profession health locus of control.
If you buy the Enlightened Preference approach, this suggests that women aren’t doing enough fetal testing. What do you think?
P.S. Here’s another thought-provoking abstract:
A survey asked 190 pregnant women their opinions on whether a hypothetical other woman would be justified in having an abortion under ten different circumstances, four of which related to abnormalities of the fetus. They were then asked whether they would be justified in having an abortion under these same circumstances… Respondents were more likely to view abortion as justifiable for a hypothetical other than for themselves. However, there was no evidence that pregnant women’s views about abortion are more conservative than those of the general public. The majority of respondents considered abortion of a defective fetus to be justified, both for themselves and for others. The best predictor of abortion attitudes was respondent’s views about the ideal number of children in a completed family.