Danish midwives' experiences with and attitudes towards late termination of pregnancy
BACKGROUND: The introduction of prenatal screening for all pregnant women in Denmark in 2004 has lead to an increase in the number of late terminations of pregnancy after the 12th week of pregnancy. Midwives' experiences with late termination of pregnancy (TOP) are still poorly described in the scientific literature. AIM: To explore Danish midwives' experiences with and attitudes towards late TOP. Focus was on how midwives perceive their own role in late TOP, and how their professional identity is influenced by working with late TOP in a time where prenatal screening is rapidly developing. METHOD: A qualitative study consisting of ten individual interviews with Danish midwives, all of whom had taken part in late TOP. RESULTS: Current practice of late TOP resembles the practice of normal deliveries and is influenced by a growing personalisation of the aborted foetus. The midwives strongly supported women's legal right to choose TOP and considerations about the foetus' right to live were suppressed. Midwives experienced a dilemma when faced with aborted foetuses that looked like newborns and when aborted foetuses showed signs of life after a termination. Furthermore, they were critical of how physicians counsel women/couples after prenatal diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: The midwives' practice in relation to late TOP was characterised by an acknowledgement of the growing ethical status of the foetus and the emotional reactions of the women/couples going through late TOP. Other professions as well as structural factors at the hospital highly influenced the midwives' ability to organize their work with late terminations. There is a need for more thorough investigation of how to secure the best possible working conditions for midwives, and how to optimise the care for women/couples going through late TOP.
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 2013, Vol 27, Issue 4, p. 913-20
Abortion, Legal; Attitude of Health Personnel; Denmark; Female; Humans; Nurse Midwives; Pregnancy