Late termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormalities: The perspective of Indian lay persons and medical practitioners

Prenat Diagn. 2011 Dec;31(13):1286-91. doi: 10.1002/pd.2887. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Objective: The objective of this article was to ascertain the opinion of lay persons and medical practitioners in India regarding late termination of pregnancies (LTOP) for fetal abnormalities.

Methods: One hundred and fifty lay persons and 120 medical practitioners were given separate questionnaires and asked their opinions regarding LTOP for prenatally detected fetal abnormalities of varying severity. The views regarding legalisation of LTOP and the acceptability of feticide by the lay persons were also ascertained.

Results: More than two-thirds of the lay persons and majority (85.8%) of clinicians felt that LTOP should be allowed for fetal conditions with poor prognosis. At least 70% of lay persons felt that LTOP should be legalised for severe fetal abnormalities. For potentially treatable conditions, continuation of pregnancy in late gestation was the preferred option. For lethal malformations like anencephaly and disorders requiring lifelong treatment like meningomylocele and thalassemia major, majority of clinicians (86.7%, 69.2% and 55.8%, respectively) and lay persons (65%, 51% and 25%, respectively) had the opinion that termination of pregnancy can be offered at any gestational age.

Conclusion: Both the lay persons as well as the medical fraternity in India feel the need to look into revision of legalisation of LTOP particularly for fetal conditions with poor outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / ethics
  • Abortion, Induced* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Abortion, Induced* / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Congenital Abnormalities*
  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult