Choosing offspring: prenatal genetic testing for thalassaemia and the production of a 'saviour sibling' in China.
Culture, health & sexuality 2010 Feb; 12(2): 167-75
This paper focuses on the pre-natal genetic testing and reproductive decision-making around thalassaemia in China. Findings are based on fieldwork conducted in hospitals and research institutions, interviews with families with thalassaemia-affected children, interviews with geneticists and genetic researchers and a literature review conducted between September and November 2007. The paper aims to provide insight into the ways in which those who carry thalassaemia decide to have a test for the condition and the choices available to prospective parents. The paper also analyses factors affecting reproductive choices and the decision to produce a 'saviour sibling', including financial implications, state family planning policy, images and information conveyed through the media and propaganda, advice and counselling from doctors, psychological pressure from the community and social discrimination. The paper concludes with a discussion on the issues involved in the creation of saviour siblings, some of which are particular to China.
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