"Important to test, important to support": attitudes toward disability rights and prenatal diagnosis among leaders of support groups for genetic disorders in Israel

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Nov;59(9):1857-66. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.02.016.


To situate the North American, and to some extent, European debate regarding disability rights and prenatal diagnosis in a social and cross-cultural context, this pilot study explored the views of leaders of organizations for disability rights and support groups for people with genetic conditions in Israel, where a similar debate has not emerged. Unlike many of their counterparts in North America, Israeli respondents were generally in favor of prenatal genetic testing as well as selective abortion, while at the same time expressing their commitment for already-born disabled individuals. The religious, legal, economic and socio-cultural context of this two-fold view of disability--which separates prenatal (preventive testing) and postnatal (supporting disability)--is discussed in order to further situate the debate in cross-cultural perspective. It is hypothesized that prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion are supported in secular Israeli society independently of the rabbinical stance, which forbids selective abortion, and in a way that reflects society's non-acceptance of congenital disability, veneration of the healthy body, and medical directiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Eugenic*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Voluntary Health Agencies