New reproductive technologies, genetic counselling and the standing of the fetus: Views from Germany and Israel

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22 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper reports findings from a comparative study of Israeli and German genetic counsellors' perceptions of the moral standing of the fetus. Data collected through in-depth interviews with counsellors in both countries (N=32) are presented, and their moral practices are analysed. The paper's findings suggest that while German counsellors perceive the fetus as an autonomous being and debate the particular biological stages through which this autonomy is acquired; Israeli counsellors do not consider the moral status of the fetus independently of its relations with its family hence, deploying a 'relational ethics'. It is suggested that these differences are influenced by historical, political, legal, and religious traditions in Germany and Israel regarding abortions and the fetus. It is concluded that the deployment of a 'biological ethics' by German counsellors reproduces the model of fetal developmental stages (in itself a construction), and hence goes hand in hand with perceptions of the fetus as a 'life', and thus as the bearer of autonomous rights which are understood to contradict those of its mother. On the other hand, the rejection of 'biological ethics' by Israeli counsellors enables a perception of fetuses that is first and foremost defined by their relationships with others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1069
Number of pages15
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume30
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fetal status
  • Genetic counselling
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • New reproductive technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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