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To What Extent do Faith and Religious Identity Decision-Making and Ante-Natal Screening for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia

Authors: Karl Atkin, Shenaz Ahmed, Jenny Hewison and Josephine M. Green

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When making decisions about prenatal diagnosis, couples not only draw
on their understanding of the condition but also broader aspects of their cultural
identity. This article looks at how faith and religion mediate attitudes towards
screening, prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy for sickle cell and thalassaemia
disorders. The article specifically reports on a qualitative study, which
used focus groups from a variety of faith communities (Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and
Christian), at risk of haemoglobin disorders, living in England. Our findings suggest
that the decision about whether or not to have diagnostic testing generally
related to attitudes towards the termination of pregnancy. The consequences of
the condition were as important as religious beliefs to most people. More generally,
faith beliefs emerged as negotiable and contingent: realized within a broader
moral framework. Religion was felt not to be prescriptive and reproductive decisions
were seen as personal. When making decisions, people utilize faith within a
broader context of individual, family and social relationships.
keywords: ethnicity ✦ prenatal diagnosis ✦ religious identity