Exploring women’s experiences of ‘late termination of pregnancy’ and ‘feticide’ when an antenatal diagnosis of severe foetal abnormality has been made
Exploring women’s experiences of ‘late termination of pregnancy’ and ‘foeticide’ when an antenatal diagnosis of severe foetal abnormality has been made
This project aimed to understand South African women’s experiences of ‘foeticide’ (and late termination of pregnancy LTOP) and health care providers’ perceptions regarding these experiences. Research of such a sensitive nature was undertaken with the highest ethical standards and procedures in place. Participant wellbeing and anonymity were prioritized throughout.
A distinct disjuncture was identified between the experiences of women undergoing late termination of pregnancy and ‘foeticide’ in public healthcare versus those who could afford private healthcare. Due to structural and systemic barriers to early access of antenatal services in South African public healthcare, the ‘foeticide’ and LTOP procedures occur more frequently in this healthcare system. International professional guidelines require that ‘foeticide’ must take place prior to terminating the pregnancy, once the foetus has reached viability (approx. 24 weeks’ gestation). This entails arresting the foetal heartbeat prior to labour.
Issues surrounding silencing, stigma and power dynamics between women and the medical system are prominent aspects explored, as well as the issue of choice and the nature of decision-making in limited resource contexts.
In order to hear participant voices as clearly as possible, a feminist social constructionist grounded theory methodology was applied to the study.
We hope to use this research to inform health systems in the best interests of women and to encourage the destigmatisation of a common medical procedure. Creating greater awareness of women’s trauma and loss may serve to challenge the stigma women are exposed to. We aim to advocate for specialized psychological and social support interventions that should be put into place from the point of diagnosis of severe foetal abnormality, along with individualized medical intervention.
Last Modified: Wed, 15 Mar 2023 09:45:15 SAST