Attitudes toward prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy in Saudi Arabia
INTRODUCTION: Advances in molecular biology will soon make it possible to offer parents prenatal testing for a large number of different genetic disorders. The tests that have been offered to date are available because of technology, not because of the burden or prevalence of the condition. Parents' attitudes to different genetic disorders need to be evaluated, because little is known about how people's attitudes to testing for one disorder relate to their views on testing for other disorders. AIMS: To assess the attitudes of Saudi parents with and without an affected child, towards prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy for a range of different genetic disorders, and the factors that affect their attitudes. METHODS: The study was conducted using structured questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. 400 Saudi parents with and without affected children completed a structured questionnaire and forty of these were then interviewed. The questionnaires were designed to assess parents' attitudes towards prenatal diagnosis and termination of the pregnancy, for thirty different conditions. The interviews were designed to explore the factors that affect parents' attitudes. FINDINGS: Parents had different attitudes to different conditions. Overall, there was an unexpectedly high level of acceptance of prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy for a range of different conditions in this Muslim sample. It was also found that parents with an affected child held more favourable attitudes towards termination of the pregnancy than parents without an affected child. Fathers without an affected child held the least favourable attitudes towards termination of pregnancy. DISCUSSION: The evidence suggests that parents perceive genetic conditions differently according to their individual experience. Islam is not the main factor that influences Muslim parents toward prenatal diagnosis and termination of the pregnancy. New technologies provide parents with more reproductive choices but also present them with more dilemmas. Further investigation about factors associated with testing and termination choices is recommended.