Down's Syndrome Screening and Reproductive Politics

Down's Syndrome Screening and Reproductive Politics : Care, Choice, and Disability in the Prenatal Clinic

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In the UK and beyond, Down's syndrome screening has become a universal programme in prenatal care. But why does screening persist, particularly in light of research that highlights pregnant women's ambivalent and problematic experiences with it? Drawing on an ethnography of Down's syndrome screening in two UK clinics, Thomas explores how and why we are so invested in this practice and what effects this has on those involved. Informed by theoretical approaches that privilege the mundane and micro practices, discourses, materials, and rituals of everyday life, Down's Syndrome Screening and Reproductive Politics describes the banal world of the clinic and, in particular, the professionals contained within it who are responsible for delivering this programme. In so doing, it illustrates how Down's syndrome screening is 'downgraded' and subsequently stabilised as a 'routine' part of a pregnancy. Further, the book captures how this routinisation is deepened by a systematic, but subtle, framing of Down's syndrome as a negative pregnancy outcome. By unpacking the complex relationships between professionals, parents, technology, policy, and clinical practice, Thomas identifies how and why screening is successfully routinised and how it is embroiled in both new and familiar debates surrounding pregnancy, ethics, choice, diagnosis, care, disability, and parenthood. The book will appeal to academics, students, and professionals interested in medical sociology, medical anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), bioethics, genetics, and/or disability more

Product details

  • Hardback | 220 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 12.7mm | 566g
  • Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 black & white tables
  • 1138959138
  • 9781138959132

About Gareth M. Thomas

Gareth M. Thomas is a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. He is a sociologist who is interested in - among other things - medicine, disability, stigma, reproduction, health and well-being, technology, place, and more

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. A Short Socio-History Chapter 3. Hands-Off Work Chapter 4. The Conduct of Care Chapter 5. Constituting Risk and Disability Chapter 6. Expectant Parents, Expecting Perfection Chapter 7. Summary and Discussionshow more

Review quote

'Gareth M. Thomas has produced a thoughtful, rich, nuanced presentation of the normalization of down syndrome screening, hoping to 'ignite more reflexive and pluralistic dialogues.' If only that would happen- that more people read, and thought, and spoke about what it means to introduce and make ordinary prenatal screening for more of these predictable conditions. It is an urgent conversation and Thomas has pushed it along in valuable ways'. Barbara Katz Rothman, City University of New York 'This fascinating, timely, and highly original book presents a rich ethnographic study of Down's Syndrome (DS) screening in two hospital clinics. With a focus on the routine practices and daily work through which test procedures are managed, risk assessments are communicated, and moral responsibility is assigned, we see how DS screening is simultaneously framed as mundane, low status work and as important to the process of decision-making during a pregnancy. Social interactions between healthcare professionals and expectant parents are central to this process, alongside questions of classification and categorisation, material and spatial architecture, and dramaturgical identity performance. Drawing on medical sociology, symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodology, Gareth Thomas presents a convincing and compelling argument about how the downgrading of DS screening is routinely accomplished through a network of power relations, discursive accounts, and everyday talk.' - Susie Scott, University of Sussex 'Down's Syndrome Screening and Reproductive Politics takes the reader deep inside the "extraordinariness of ordinariness" to scrutinize how the professional practices of midwives and sonographers trivialize the tests pregnant women, and their supporters, have for this and other disabling conditions. Based on extensive sociological fieldwork in the U.K., this book provides a valuable analysis of the expert discourses that now inform contemporary reproductive politics, wherever prenatal testing is routinized.' Rayna Rapp, New York University and author of Testing Women, Testing the Foetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in Americashow more