Disability Experiences and Perspectives Regarding Reproductive Decisions, Parenting, and the Utility of Genetic Services: a Qualitative Study

C Roadhouse, C Shuman, K Anstey, K Sappleton, D Chitayat, E Ignagni
Journal of Genetic Counseling 2018 June 16
Genetic counselors adopt seemingly contradictory roles: advocating for individuals with genetic conditions while offering prenatal diagnosis and the option of selective termination to prevent the birth of a child with a disability. This duality contributes to the tension between the disability and clinical genetics communities. Varying opinions exist amongst the disability community: some value genetic services while others are opposed. However, there is limited research exploring the opinions of individuals with a disability regarding issues related to reproduction and genetic services in the context of personal experience. This exploratory qualitative study involved interviews with seven women and three men who self-identify as having a disability. We sought to gain their perspectives on experiences with disability, thoughts about reproduction and parenting, and perceptions of genetic services. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed thematically using qualitative content analysis. Data analysis showed that societal views of disability affected the lived experience and impacted reproductive decision-making for those with a disability. It also showed differing interest in genetic services. Concerns about the perceived collective implications of genetic services were also raised. These findings contribute to the understanding of the disability perspective toward reproductive decision-making and genetic services. A further goal is to promote a meaningful dialogue between the genetics and disability communities, with the potential to enhance the genetic and reproductive care provided to individuals with disabilities.


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