An exploration of women's reasons for termination timing in the setting of fetal abnormalities

Lori M. Gawron*, Kenzie A. Cameron, Ava Phisuthikul, Melissa A. Simon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Over 3% of pregnancies are complicated by a fetal abnormality, of which, approximately 80% are terminated. Despite early screening options, women often present at the cusp of legal limits for termination. Study Design A qualitative study was conducted with women terminating pregnancies for fetal abnormalities. Semi-structured interviews explored reasons for termination timing. Analysis utilized latent content and constant comparative methods. Results Of 30 participants between 13+4 and 23+5 weeks gestation, their median age was 35 years, 73.3% were white, 70% were religiously affiliated, and 60% had children. The median time from abnormality identification until termination was 16.5 days (range 2-73). The major themes for termination timing included (1) an abrupt shift in "low-risk" pregnancy perception; (2) challenging medical interactions; (3) an emotional decision-making process; and (4) termination access barriers. Conclusions Timing of termination for fetal abnormalities is attributable to multiple issues. Future research should identify optimal prenatal counseling strategies, address systemic barriers, and identify patient decision-making resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Abortion
  • Fetal anomaly
  • Second trimester

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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