Authors' Reply

Authors


Sir,

We are grateful for the support expressed by Howarth for the concepts in our article “Mothers and babies, pregnant women and fetuses”. We agree that “when counselling there can be little doubt that one has to individualise terminology”. We did not intend that our terminology be prescriptive, but rather that the terminology that we propose be an appropriate starting point after which one needs to be responsive to the position of the pregnant woman.

We welcome Howarth's challenge to elaborate our framework to address the man's standing. A pregnant woman's husband or male partner becomes an expectant father when she decides to take the pregnancy to term. If the man is not the genetic father, i.e. he is not the male gamete donor, then, upon the woman's decision to take the pregnancy to term, he needs to decide whether to become an expectant father. This is analogous to a man deciding to adopt a child that is not genetically his own. If the woman's partner is a woman, she becomes the expectant parent as a function of the pregnant woman's autonomous decision to take the pregnancy to term. Howarth is correct that, psychosocially, becoming a parent is a complex phenomenon for both women and men.

We hope that the concepts that we have espoused will sensitise those counselling pregnant women to the underlying issues such that care is taken to use terminology which does not offend.

Ancillary