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Termination of pregnancy due to Thalassemia major, Hemophilia, and Down's Syndrome: the views of Iranian physicians

BMC Medical Ethics
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6939-9-19
  • Research Article
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Religious Science


Background Genetic disorders due to kindred marriages are common medical conditions in Iran; however, the legal aspects of abortion remain controversial. This study was undertaken to determine physicians' opinions regarding the termination of pregnancy for three genetic diseases: thalassemia major, hemophilia, and Down's syndrome. Methods A questionnaire was administered to selected physicians by stratified random sampling to determine the following: age, gender, knowledge about prenatal diagnosis of diseases in high risk pregnancies, agreement with abortion, recommended gestational age for abortion, and, if opposed to abortion, the reason. Results Of 323 physicians, who participated in the study, 91.3(295), 40.6(131), and 78.6%(254) were in agreement and 8.7(28), 59.4(192), and 21.4%(69) were opposed to abortion for thalassemia major, hemophilia, and Down's syndrome, respectively. Among 289 physicians opposed to abortion in respect of each of all three conditions, the following reasons were cited: religion, 18; emotional, 10; quality of care, 23; hope to find a new treatment option in the future, 103; miscellaneous reasons, 6; and a combination of these reasons, 129. Among 680 physicians in agreement with abortion in relation to all of the diseases, 4.6%(31) were agreed with abortion in less than 12 weeks gestation, 79.2%(538) in less than 16 weeks gestation, 5.6%(38) in less than 20 weeks gestation, 2.2%(15) in less than 24 weeks gestation, and 8.4%(58) were agreed with beyond the 24 weeks of gestational age. Conclusion The majority of physicians were in agreement with abortion for thalassemia major and Down's syndrome because of the overall prognosis, but opposed to abortion for hemophilia.

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