The role of religion in decision-making on antenatal screening of congenital anomalies: A qualitative study amongst Muslim Turkish origin immigrants Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: to explore what role religious beliefs of pregnant Muslim women play in their decision-making on antenatal screening, particularly regarding congenital abnormalities and termination, and whether their interpretations of the religious doctrines correspond to the main sources of Islam. DESIGN: qualitative pilot study using in-depth interviews with pregnant Muslim women. SETTING: one midwifery practice in a medium-sized city near Amsterdam participated in the study. PARTICIPANTS: 10 pregnant Muslim women of Turkish origin who live in a high density immigrant area and who attended primary midwives for antenatal care were included in the study. DATA COLLECTION AND DATA ANALYSIS: to explore the role of religion in decision-making on antenatal screening tests, a topic list was constructed, including four subjects: being a (practising) Muslim, the view on unborn life, the view on disabled life and the view on termination. To analyse the interviews, open and axial coding based on the Grounded Theory was used and descriptive and analytical themes were identified and interpreted. FINDINGS: all 10 interviewees stated that their faith played a role in their decision-making on antenatal screening, specific to the combined test. They did not consider congenital anomalies as a problem and did not consider termination to be an option in case of a disabled fetus. However, the Islamic jurisprudence considers that termination is allowed if the fetus has serious abnormalities, but only before 19 weeks plus one day of gestation. KEY CONCLUSIONS: religious convictions play a role regarding antenatal screening in pregnant Muslim women of Turkish origin. The interviewees did not consider a termination in case of an affected child. Women were unaware that within Islamic tradition there is the possibility of termination if a fetus has serious anomalies. Incomplete knowledge of religious doctrines may be influencing both decisions of antenatal screening and diagnostic tests uptake and of terminating a pregnancy for fetuses with serious anomalies. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTISE: counsellors should be aware of the role of religious beliefs in the decision-making process on antenatal screening tests.


  • Gitsels-van der Wal, Janneke T
  • Manniën, Judith
  • Ghaly, Mohammed M
  • Verhoeven, Pieternel S
  • Hutton, Eileen Katherine
  • Reinders, Hans S

publication date

  • March 2014