Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Marilyn K. Evans


Advances in prenatal screening and its availability for every woman have resulted in increasing the number of identified fetal abnormalities. The discovery of fetal abnormalities in the second trimester of pregnancy can force pregnant women into the dilemma of deciding the fate of their wanted pregnancies. A woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy for a fetal abnormality in the second trimester is a very difficult and complicated decision.

An interpretive phenomenological approach was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the long-term experiences of women who terminated their pregnancy for fetal abnormalities and reveal the meanings embedded in their experiences. Conversational in-depth interviews were conducted with ten women who had terminated their pregnancy more than five years previously. Thematic analysis guided by van Manen's approach was used to uncover the meaning of the women's experiences. Six themes were identified as characteristics of the women's experiences over time: encountering the unexpected, making sense of the unexpected, facing the inevitable decision, living with the decision, feeling supported, and changing perspectives.

The findings inform health care professionals about the complexities of these women's' experiences, perinatal grief and bereavement. It is hoped that health care professionals will evaluate their prenatal screening and counseling practices, and review their present models of care in light of these findings. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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