Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood

Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood

Article excerpt

The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood, by B.K. Rothman. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.

Amniocentesis is a prenatal diagnostic technique used to detect genetic disorders in fetuses. The procedure involves an amniotic tap, usually performed during the sixteenth week of pregnancy. The test results are available about four weeks later. If the test results indicate a genetic defect in the fetus, then the parents may decide to have an abortion.

Barbara Katz Rothman has written a provocative book, The Tentative Pregnancy: Prenatal Diagnosis and the Future of Motherhood, in which she discusses some of the implications of amniocentesis for women and society. According to Rothman, pregnancies in which amniocentesis have been performed are tentative. The woman follows personal, medical, and social rituals that acknowledge pregnancy. Nevertheless, she knows that depending on the test's results, she may decide not to carry the pregnancy to full term. Consequently, many of these pregnancies are tentative well into mid-pregnancy.

Rothman's field work, which forms the backbone of the book, includes extensive interviews with women and medical professionals. She writes with sensitivity about women who have used the procedure. The voices of the interviewed women come out clearly in the text, bringing their seldom heard views into the arena of public discourse. While amniocentesis gives women a certain freedom to choose the kind of parenting they will undertake, Rothman's data suggests that women's opinions and experiences have not been sufficiently considered in the use of this relatively new technology. …

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