Religious traditions and prenatal genetic counseling

Rebecca Rae Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Members of organized religious groups may look to their faith traditions for guidance regarding the moral implications of prenatal diagnosis and intervention. Many denominations have doctrinal statements relevant to these deliberations. In this article, common spiritual issues arising in the genetic counseling encounter are described. Representative doctrinal positions, derived from the responses of 31 U.S. religious denominations to a survey relating to prenatal genetic counseling, are given. Because the long-term adjustment of patients may be dependent in part on their ability to reconcile their actions with their faith traditions, genetic counselors best serve their patients when they invite discussion of matters of faith. Unless invited, patients may assume these topics are ''off limits'' or that care providers are indifferent to their beliefs. Although genetics professionals ought not assume the role of spiritual advisor, a working knowledge of doctrinal approaches should help counselors frame the issues, and avoid missteps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009


  • Faith
  • Genetic counseling
  • Prenatal genetics
  • Religion
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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