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05.11.2015 | Original Research | Ausgabe 3/2016

Journal of Genetic Counseling 3/2016

Survey of the Definition of Fetal Viability and the Availability, Indications, and Decision Making Processes for Post-Viability Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormalities and Health Conditions in Canada

Zeitschrift:
Journal of Genetic Counseling > Ausgabe 3/2016
Autoren:
Danna Hull, Gregory Davies, Christine M. Armour

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the definition of fetal viability and the availability, indications, and decision making processes for post-viability termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormalities and health conditions in Canada. An online survey of members of the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors, the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, and the Canadian Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine who provide direct counselling to, or management of, prenatal patients in Canada (total sample size 815). Results of this study showed that the majority of respondents indicated that their centre will offer post-viability termination of pregnancy (98/123; 80 %). Sixty-seven percent (68/101) of respondents reported the definition of fetal viability to be 24 weeks’ gestation. Most respondents reported that a collaborative decision making process was used to determine if post-viability termination of pregnancy would be offered (136/170; 80 %). For conditions presumed to be lethal/likely lethal, the majority of respondents would “sometimes” or “always” offer post-viability termination of pregnancy, whereas for conditions presumed to have a mild effect, the majority of respondents would “rarely” or “never” offer post-viability termination of pregnancy. Ninety percent (77/86) of respondents reported that perinatal hospice is offered as an alternative to termination of pregnancy. In conclusion, this study suggests that although post-viability termination is available in many provinces in Canada, variation in the definition of fetal viability and indications appear to exist. While these variations may lead to unequal access to post-viability termination of pregnancy across Canada, they might also represent the complexity of the decision making process and the importance of examining individual factors to ensure that the most appropriate decision is made in each case.

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