Reproductive autonomy in the genomic age

This ARC Discovery Project began in March 2021 and will involves collaborators at the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, and Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

The project aims to provide a better way to help people to think and reflect about new genomic tests in pregnancy.

Advances in DNA sequencing mean pregnant women are now offered information on a rapidly expanding array of potential disabilities and disabling conditions. The genomic information may be complex and uninterpretable, and therefore of little use to clinicians or prospective parents. “Reproductive autonomy”, the ability to reflect critically on values, desires and preferences and to draw on this ability when making choices before and during pregnancy, is frequently given as the key underlying rationale for prenatal testing. Yet the dominant interpretation of reproductive autonomy remains seriously deficient, especially in terms of making decisions about disability.

This project combines empirical and theoretical approaches to analyse how concepts of reproductive autonomy need to change to ensure these new tests in pregnancy are offered and used in ethically responsible ways.

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