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Keywords:

  • prenatal testing;
  • pregnancy;
  • medicalisation;
  • experiential knowledge;
  • biomedical knowledge

Abstract

A common assumption is that women who decline prenatal testing distrust biomedicine and trust embodied/experiential knowledge sources, while women who accept testing trust biomedicine and distrust embodied/experiential sources. Another major assumption about prenatal testing utilisation is that women who are open to abortion will undergo prenatal testing while those who are opposed to abortion will decline testing. Yet, previous research has produced inconsistent findings as to what, if anything, distinguishes women who accept or decline the offer of prenatal diagnosis. Analysing interviews with 147 pregnant women, this paper questions these assumptions about the role of abortion views and pregnant women’s relative trust in various knowledge sources on their decisions to accept or decline an amniocentesis offer after a positive result on an initial diagnostic screening. We found that pregnant women’s attitudes toward different knowledge sources were equally, if not more, important factors than abortion views in affecting whether individual women accepted or declined amniocentesis. At the same time, our data reveal that the relationship between ‘expert’ and ‘lay’ knowledge sources is often complex and synergistic.