Ahmed S, Bryant LD, Cole P Midwives' perceptions of their role as facilitators of informed choice in antenatal screening. Midwifery. 2013; 29:(7)745-50

Dobelli RLondon: Sceptre; 2013

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Lindsay P Midwives should not offer women choice in childbirth. Midwifery Matters. 2006; 108:23-4

Tsouroufli M Routinisation and constraints on informed choice in a one-stop clinic offering first trimester chromosomal antenatal screening for Down's syndrome. Midwifery. 2011; 27:(4)431-6

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The paradox of choice: Antenatal screening and decision-making

02 April 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 4

Dobelli (2013) cites an experiment in which a supermarket displayed 24 flavours of jelly, which customers could taste and then buy at a discount; the next day, the experiment was repeated with six flavours. The supermarket sold 10 times more jelly on day 2. Why? The huge diversity on day 1 made customers indecisive and they bought nothing. This illustrates the paradox of choice.

But how relevant is such a phenomenon when it comes to making choices about the use of reproductive technologies, which aim to enable people to choose whether to avoid the birth of a baby with a disabling condition? And to what extent are midwives influential in families' decisions? A decade ago, Lindsay (2006: 23), herself a midwife, made an uncompromising stand and said that women should not be encouraged to make choices, as excessive choice could not only cause confusion and unhappiness, but ‘the more options we have, the more difficult it is to make a decision and the more regret we are likely to feel if our choices turn out to be wrong ones’.

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