Hastings Law Journal


Lori B. Andrews


Physicians use prenatal genetic tests on pregnant women to gain an increasing amount of information about fetuses before birth. These tests do more than predict the future health of the developing fetuses, however; they transform the culture of motherhood-society's expectations of pregnant women and women's expectations of themselves. Decisions to undergo genetic testing-and control or lack of control over dissemination of the results of testing-affect women's self-image, personal relationships, and how women are judged by institutions such as insurers and employers. This article reviews psychological, anthropological, and sociological research on the impacts of genetic testing and argues that healthcare providers and policymakers should consider these impacts as they develop social policies for the use of prenatal testing.

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