Exploring prenatal genetic counselors' perceptions of abortion laws in restrictive states

Shelby Koenig*, Eve Simi, Aaron Goldenberg, Susan Magasi, Catherine Wicklund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In many states, abortion laws are becoming increasingly restrictive. Prenatal genetic counselors often see patients after the diagnosis of a fetal abnormality or genetic disorder and discuss the option of termination of pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to understand prenatal genetic counselors' perspectives on how state abortion laws impact their practice. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 prenatal genetic counselors in states with restrictive abortion laws who were recruited from the National Society of Genetic Counselors' online directory. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed thematically, yielding five themes: genetic counselors in this study described (a) how state laws restrict access to abortion; (b) how they navigate state laws and institutional policies regarding abortion; (c) how they tailor their professional practice in the context of state abortion laws; (d) how abortion laws burden patients; and (e) how they engage in forms of advocacy. Participants described the financial and emotional burden placed on their patients by state abortion laws and how the laws influence their patient interactions. As access to abortion becomes more restricted, it is important to be aware of how this will impact genetic counselors and their patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-801
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • abortion access
  • abortion legislation
  • advocacy
  • genetic counseling
  • prenatal
  • professional practice
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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