Abortion is referred to as the termination of one's pregnancy due to personal or medical reasons. The termination of a pregnancy is done by the removal of the embryo or fetus while it is still in the womb. There are abortions that occur spontaneously, that is, they occur without the one carrying the pregnancy planning for it. These are called miscarriages. Induced abortions are the abortions that are intended. This can also be done for one to miscarry (National Health Services, 2014). At times, the fetus is removed when it possible or potential for it survive out of the womb. This is known as the late termination of pregnancy. Abortion cases have been happening for a long time in various places in the world. For a long time most governments have refuted the occurrence abortions due to the many deaths that used to be resulted by them hence being considered as a murders or killings. Therefore, it was termed as an illegal process. However, recently most governments have been legalizing it due to various reasons. Though, the topic on abortion has been a controversial issue in many societies and countries in the world. Many people hold various opinions on abortions. Some hold opinions based on religious grounds; others based on medical grounds while others are based on personal reasons. Annually, pregnancies that count to almost 200 million in the world are aborted of which a third of them are not planned for. These are done due to medical reasons majorly genetic defects. An abortion is carried out due to genetic defects, when it is observed that the babys chances of have a disability or an abnormality later in life are high approximately 99.4 % (National Health Services, 2014). These disabilities or abnormalities may either physical or mental.
With technological advancements in the medical world, it has aided in prenatal diagnosis whereby the conditions of the fetus or embryo are conducted to detect if there any genetic deformations and the future occurrences of diseases related to gene deformation. This diagnosis has made it possible in detecting if in the fetus, are congenital disorders. This includes the procedures of ultrasound and amniocentesis. These tests determine whether the fetus is to be aborted or not. Abortions carried out due to genetic effects are mostly as a result of having observed that the baby would have serious disabilities or abnormalities that would lead to problems of the babys health or even premature death later in life. When a pregnant woman who has tried hard to conceive, finds out that her baby will have serious defects, can shatter her seriously. During the early weeks of the pregnancy possibly around the 20th to 24th of the pregnancy, amniocentesis tests are important in certain cases, though they may not be offered to all pregnant women. The tests, tests the amniotic fluid around the fetus in the womb. The amniotic fluid around the fetus of embryo tends to consists of the cells discarded from the developing fetus. Two to three tablespoons of the fluid are drawn out to test for any genetic defects. These cells have the information on the chromosomes that help in informing the doctors if the baby will develop any genetic defects. There are other substances in the fluid that also help in determining the various types of defects and diseases caused as a result of genetic defects.
When the fetus develops normally, all the cells in it contain chromosomes that are 46 in number which are in pairs hence have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell. Genetic defects or disorders can be indicated if the pattern of the chromosomes in these cells is different. These abnormalities in chromosomes, the disorder in genes and defective neural tubes are detected when the amniocentesis test is conducted. Conditions that the test tends to detect are;
Spina Bifida which is a defect whereby the baby is born without the backbone and the membranes that encompass the spinal cord completely closing.
Cystic Fibrosis is a gene which is defective resulting to a buildup of a very thick mucus layer in organs in the body of the baby such as, the pancreas and lungs.
Sickle cell is resulted by mutated hemoglobin gene that results to the formation of red blood cells that are crescent in shape.
Down syndrome, another disability caused due to the occurrence of a partial or full extra chromosome 21 in a cell (National Down Syndrome Society, 2012).
Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), is resulted by an error in cellular division that is called meiotic disjunction whereby, there is an occurrence of a plus one chromosome 18 which leads to the formation of a triple instead of a pair of chromosome (Trisomy 18 Foundation, 2016).
Tay-Sachs is resulted by mutation of genes resulting to a disorder that causes the accumulation of a certain type of lipid in the brain leading to the destruction of neurons in the spinal cord and brain (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2011).
Muscular Dystrophy is diseases resulted by genetic disorder that causes the weakening of the musculoskeletal system which hampers locomotion.
Most of these genetic defects in fetuses can be as a result of factors caused by gene malformation or mutations whereby morphogenesis errors and modifications of the epigenetics on the germ line of the parent occur or by the abnormalities of the chromosomes which are resulted by either the occurrence of an extra or a duplicated or alteration of a chromosome or even by a chromosome missing (Batzli, 2010). The abnormalities of a chromosomes, may affect all or a huge percentage the chromosomes in the cells (Brambati et al., 1985). The prenatal tests have become a common thing in the medical world, nowadays. They are mostly used to detect any abnormalities in the fetus though some of the tests are carried out to determine the gender of the baby. This has become almost a routine to all pregnant women due to the numerous information that people have on genes when it comes to the development of fetuses.
There is always a clash between the understanding of the doctor when carrying out the prenatal procedure and what the woman understands about the procedure plus their perception of it. The doctor views the procedure as a test to determine any genetic defects and how to prevent the defective birth of the baby whereas the pregnant woman goes to seek reassurance that their baby is healthy. To most couples, there is no existence of any link between these tests and abortion.
Many pregnant women in the world face the decision of carrying out an abortion each year after knowing that their fetus will have abnormalities. Decisions made to carry out abortions to as a result of genetic disorders, tend to be difficult to make to the mother or the couple having the baby. The parents are never prepared for the news that their fetus is defective. This is because this abortion was not intended making it a difficult, exhausting and painful process. With the shocking news of the anomalies of the fetus, the couples tend to be urged to abort the pregnancy as soon as possible, so as to avoid any later complications that will caused by terminating the pregnancy in late stages. These abortions cause distress on the psychology of the woman and take a lot of time to adjust. This is because most of the times, the woman has started developing a maternal attachment with the fetus. A traumatizing experience it is indeed to the couples mostly the woman. In early stages it is difficult to carry out these abortions since it becomes difficult to terminate the pregnancy for the fetus is not easily visible.
Genetic abortions tend to have huge impacts on both the couples and the children of the couples. Women who have undergone these abortions tend to experience intense grief which may include disturbances of the psychology leading to depression, anger and guilt feelings. Depression cases mostly involve the denial of the occurrence of the abortions. Recovery in most cases takes a long period of time. Most of the women undergo treatment to recover from these occurrences. These abortions not only affect the couple but also their children who are alive. They may result to impacts that negatively affect the emotions of the children. The depression and anxiety cases that affect their parents have impacts on the children. If the children knew of their mothers pregnancy, then the babys absence affects them. Younger children tend to have a difficult time in understanding the situation and coping with it.
The genetic abortion despite being taken as a worthy course however has caused controversial debates in various parts of the world. Many countries have legalized the genetic abortions and the option is available need anyone request for it. Though, some countries such as Vatican City and Chile refute all kinds of abortion even if the fetus may have genetic defects. Some countries do allow abortion to occur if and only if the mother is at risk however; they do not allow genetic abortions. These countries are like Ireland, Iran and Mexico (America Journal of Public Health, 1999). Though, they are countries that do allow genetic abortions which are Cuba, South Africa, India, Cyprus and Sri Lanka (WHO, 2016). Women who find out that their fetuses are defective and live in countries that term abortions of all kinds to be illegal, seek out for abortions services illegally and this happens in conditions that are unsafe which may result to death in extreme cases (WHO, 2016). In situations whereby these women cannot perform these abortions, their babies end up dying at the hospital once they are born hence contributing to the morbidity and mortality rates in the countries.
With all the advancements in the world due to technology, prenatal diagnosis has been made possible and is expanding at a fast rate all over the world. Abnormalities in the fetus and embryos can now be detected through various processes of amniocentesis test and ultrasounds. Most pregnant women are advised and urged to takes these tests so as to detect if there any abnormalities in the fetuses and embryos. Though, prenatal diagnosis is voluntary. With the huge amount of information on genes available to doctors and people, most people have become aware on the various effects that genes can result upon the fetuses and embryos. When these abnormalities and disabilities are found to exist, then an abortion is recommended to the woman or couples. Neither are most individuals prepared nor do they expect to find that their fetuses or embryos are defective. Although, many ways do exist in which these tests can be carried out, there are times, inaccuracy occurs when conducting these procedures resulting to unintended harm upon the fetus or embryo. After these abortions are carried out, couples tend to be affected largely as a result of the loss of their baby. They undergo depression, shame, guilt and anger. They end up affecting their children, who are alive, emotionally and psychologically. These couples are rarely informed by the genetic counselors if such occurrences do happen. Therefore, for the couples to make a choice that is informed on carrying out a genetic abortion, they do need to be informed on the consequences that this abortion might have on them emotionally and psychologically. Furthermore, they need to be informed clearly on how to care for special needs children if they decide to go ahead with the pregnancy.
American Journal of Public Health. (1999). Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion: A challenge to Practice and Policy. Vol 89(11). 1649-1657.
Batzli, K. (2010). The Expressivity of Prenatal Testing & Selective Abortion for Disability. Pe...
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