BMC Medical Ethics 21 (1):1-8 (2020)

Ulrik Kihlbom
Uppsala University
BackgroundPreconception Expanded Carrier Screening is a genetic test offered to a general population or to couples who have no known risk of recessive and X-linked genetic diseases and are interested in becoming parents. A test may screen for carrier status of several autosomal recessive diseases at one go. Such a program has been piloted in the Netherlands and may become a reality in more European countries in the future. The ethical rationale for such tests is that they enhance reproductive autonomy. The dominant conception of autonomy is individual-based. However, at the clinic, people deciding on preconception ECS will be counselled together and are expected to make a joint decision, as a couple. The aim of the present study was to develop an understanding of autonomous decisions made by couples in the context of reproductive technologies in general and of preconception ECS in particular. Further, to shed light on what occurs in reproductive clinics and suggest concrete implications for healthcare professionals.Main textBased on the shift in emphasis from individual autonomy to relational autonomy, a notion of couple autonomy was suggested and some features of this concept were outlined. First, that both partners are individually autonomous and that the decision is reached through a communicative process. In this process each partner should feel free to express his or her concerns and preferences, so no one partner dominates the discussion. Further, there should be adequate time for the couple to negotiate possible differences and conclude that the decision is right for them. The final decision should be reached through consensus of both partners without coercion, manipulation or miscommunication. Through concrete examples, the suggested notion of couple autonomy was applied to diverse clinical situations.ConclusionsA notion of couple autonomy can be fruitful for healthcare professionals by structuring their attention to and support of a couple who is required to make an autonomous joint decision concerning preconception ECS. A normative implication for healthcare staff is to allow the necessary time for decision-making and to promote a dialogue that can increase the power of the weaker part in a relationship.
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-020-00470-w
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
A Right to Reproduce?Muireann Quigley - 2010 - Bioethics 24 (8):403-411.

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