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Post-diagnostic abortion in Germany: reproduction gone awry, again?


  • Erikson, Susan L.


Routine use of prenatal diagnostic technologies (PDTs) such as ultrasound and amniocentesis result in the detection of a small percentage of fetal anomalies. For those women faced with the diagnosis of fetal disability, a decision must be made to continue or terminate the pregnancy. When the diagnosis is merely hypothetical, the discursive specter of post-diagnostic abortion is shaped by social and historical contexts in which interested discourses (regional, political, ethical, and religious) weigh in with varying degrees of authority and influence. However, when the diagnosis is actual, in this sample population of women, an estimated minimum of 90% opt to terminate their pregnancies. Data collected at two German hospitals--one in former East Germany, one in former West Germany--illuminate rates of PDT use and provide data with which to discuss the specter of post-diagnostic abortion in relation to mainstream medical discourses, Germany's divided history, abortion politics, feminism, disability activism, and religion. These data demonstrate how reproductive discourses are shaped by ideological and historical contingencies, even when women's ultimate reproductive decisions are not.

Suggested Citation

  • Erikson, Susan L., 2003. "Post-diagnostic abortion in Germany: reproduction gone awry, again?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(9), pages 1987-2001, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1987-2001

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    Cited by:

    1. Hashiloni-Dolev, Yael & Shkedi, Shiri, 2007. "On new reproductive technologies and family ethics: Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for sibling donor in Israel and Germany," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(10), pages 2081-2092, November.


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