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Ethical Considerations for Genetic Testing, Infertility, and Balancing Maternal–Fetal Needs

Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May-June 2011 - Volume 36 - Issue 3 - p 162–168
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3182102221

Among the ethical issues confronting maternal–child nurses are questions surrounding genetic testing, contraception and sterilization, infertility/assisted reproductive technology, and equality in balancing maternal–fetal needs. This article explores these issues, reviews the literature currently available, and discusses nursing clinical implications for each as well as representative case studies. The types of support needed by childbearing families who are facing ethical issues requires emotional and physical support, informational support, and advocacy support. The role of the nurse in educating women about the ethical implications of their choices cannot be overestimated. When women have been educated about the implications of their decisions and are therefore empowered to make informed decisions about their lives and their pregnancies, clinical nurses who practice ethically respect those decisions and support the women in their choices.

Dr. Callister helps us to understand how to practice ethically in these specific situations.

Lynn Clark Callister is a Professor Emerita at Brigham Young University College of Nursing. She can be reached via e-mail at

For 18 additional continuing nursing education articles on ethical/legal issues, go to

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.