The role of genetic counseling in the elective termination of pregnancies involving fetuses with disabilities.
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In this study, 69 women were surveyed who, as a result of a prenatal screening knew they were at risk for carrying a fetus with a disability. Results indicated that most women were referred by their physicians for genetic counseling either because of their age or because of an abnormal blood test. The majority of women indicated they would choose to terminate a pregnancy that tested positive for a disability, but the type of disability of the fetus, either Down syndrome or spina bifida, made no difference in the decision that women believed they would make. The women's intention to terminate a pregnancy appeared to be unrelated to their overall knowledge about disabilities but was negatively related to their knowledge of disability-related services. Although women reported that genetic counseling was helpful, they revealed that they were not given information about future-quality-of-life issues for individuals with disabilities nor provided with the positive as well as the negative aspects of giving birth to a child with disabilities.