Student midwives' responses to reproductive ethics: A qualitative focus group approach using case scenarios

Sarah Church, Merryn Ekberg

    Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


    Objective: the aim of this study was to gain an understanding of how midwifery students respond to a range of ethical dilemmas which they may encounter in clinical practice in relation to the use of reproductive technologies. Design: during a series of focus groups, student midwives were asked to consider four novel scenarios, which highlighted some of the most controversial issues in contemporary reproductive ethics. These included assisted reproduction for older women, surrogacy and mental health, sex selection and reproductive cloning. Setting: a University in the East Midlands, England. Participants: purposeful sampling was adopted which resulted in four focus groups with a total of 16 student midwives. Findings: a process of thematic analysis generated four key themes: choice and expectation, consumer society; distributive justice; parental rights and welfare of the child. Conclusions: our results suggest that student midwives are sensitive to the range of ethical dilemmas associated with the increased use of technology in human reproduction, and construct distinct boundaries in relation to what is considered of benefit or good to the mother, parents, the child and to society and what is considered harmful to the individual, the child and society. They also expressed their opposition to the excessive use of technological intervention, preferring instead to maintain a more naturalistic approach to reproduction. This is especially significant where concerns about the welfare of the child are articulated. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMidwifery
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

    Publication series



    • Assisted reproductive technology
    • Ethics
    • Reproduction
    • Student midwives


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