Women’s Intention to Abort a Fetus Diagnosed With a Genetic Disease: Results From Israel, Cyprus, and Germany

Sara Kivity, Sivia Barnoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developments in genetics enable detection of fetal genetic abnormalities. The decision whether to abort is affected by culture, perceived severity of abnormality, and legal regulations. The study aimed to assess the cultural differences in women’s intention to abort if their fetus is diagnosed with a genetic disease. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Israel, Germany, and Cyprus. A questionnaire presented six scenarios where the fetus of a pregnant woman is diagnosed with a mild, moderate, or severe genetic disease. For each scenario, the participating women were asked to rate their perceived severity of having a child with the disease, sense of control over performing an abortion, and intention to undergo an abortion. 141 Israeli, 121 German, and 96 Cypriot women participated in the study. The results revealed that Israeli women were more inclined to perform an abortion (Israel: Mild-Disease M ± SD = 3.20 ± 1.37; Moderate-Disease 2.90 ± 1.39; Severe-Disease 4.08 ± 1.51) compared to Cyprus (Mild-Disease SD = 2.74 ± 1.52; Moderate-Disease 2.53 ± 1.27; Severe-Disease 3.41 ± 1.70) and Germany (Mild Disease, M ± SD = 2.38 ± 1.42; Moderate Disease 2.23 ± 1.44; Severe-Disease 2.98 ± 1.51). In all cases, Israeli women reported a higher sense of control over performing an abortion and Cypriot women expressed the highest perceived severity. Sense of control, perceived severity, being Israeli, and increased age explained 31% of the variance in the intention to abort (F = 54.39). Intention to abort following the diagnosis of a fetus with a genetic disease varies by country. There is a greater intention to abort when women feel more control, and have a higher perceived severity, regardless of the severity of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • control
  • disease severity
  • genetic disease
  • selective abortion

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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