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Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine$
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Isabelle Dussauge, Claes-Fredrik Helgesson, and Francis Lee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689583.001.0001

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Norms, values, and constraints

Norms, values, and constraints

The case of prenatal diagnosis

(p.186) 10 Norms, values, and constraints
Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine

Ilana Löwy

Oxford University Press

Prenatal diagnosis (PND) of foetal malformations was originally an exceptional procedure aiming at the detection of rare anomalies. The widespread diffusion of innovations that have radically modified routine management of ‘normal’ pregnancies, such as diagnostic ultrasound or serum tests for detection of Down’s risk, PND, transformed prenatal diagnosis into a routine medical technology. The rapid diffusion of this technology was often presented as a non-problematic response to users’ demand. A history of PND indicates, however, that the generalization of this innovation was initially driven by the professionals’ goals. Women had limited input into the shaping of a method that modified their experience of pregnancy, focused their attention on dangers to the foetus, and, not infrequently, forced them to make difficult choices. This chapter investigates how pregnancy has changed over the last fifty years, whose values shaped that change, and what are the consequences of this new configuration.

Keywords:   PND, pregnancy, amniocentesis, Down’s syndrome, abortion, obstetrical ultrasound, non-invasive PND

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