Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Third Trimester Abortion for Fetal Abnormality

Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Third Trimester Abortion for Fetal Abnormality

Article excerpt

Sjef Gevers, Third Trimester Abortion for Fetal Abnormality, 13 BIOETHICS 306 (1999).

Developments in medical technology have increased the possibility of diagnosing severe structural abnormalities in the fetus. If these occur, a woman may request termination of her pregnancy. This raises serious ethical and legal questions, in particular if the anomalies are discovered in the third trimester when the fetus is considered viable. Should doctors be allowed to act upon a request for abortion in such a situation, and, if so, which safeguards should be in place? These questions are discussed with special reference to the Netherlands where a commission established by the government recently published a report on this matter.

Since the adoption of the Holland Abortion Act in 1981, the desire for third trimester abortion has made itself felt, at least occasionally. In order to provide guidance with regard to good medical practice, in 1994 the Netherlands Association for Obstetrics and Gynaecology published a report which lays down certain criteria. According to that report, third trimester abortion may only be considered if a fetal abnormality is diagnosed which either excludes the possibility of survival after birth, or is so serious that postnatal life prolonging procedures will be considered futile. …

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