Work on my portfolio proposal is going very slowly, so I’ve been concentrating on a related paper for another class. I decided to apply to present that paper at the New Directions Conference next year, so I worked up an abstract to submit. I’m really hoping that having that abstract in hand will provide a little inspiration for my other projects! The abstract is as follows:
The experience of pregnancy has changed in modern times, and one of the biggest changes is the advent of fetal ultrasound. Expectant parents look forward to the ultrasound as confirmation of a pregnancy and a chance to “meet” their child. The purpose of fetal ultrasound has undergone a massive shift; it was once used sparingly as a detector of fetal abnormality and now is most often considered a social event. Almost all modern women in the United States have at least one ultrasound scan over the course of carrying a baby – but therein lies a fundamental problem. This paper will examine the reasons women choose to have those scans, and it will further posit that popular and medical rhetoric does not adequately inform women about the potential effects of fetal ultrasound, and thus influences them to have the scans. I will analyze the situation via several different analytic approaches: the societal perception of fetal ultrasound, the messages of media targeting pregnant women, physicians’ rhetoric to pregnant patients, the patriarchal tendency to support the use of fetal ultrasound, women’s reasons for consenting to fetal ultrasound, and, finally, the ethical implications of the intersections in these areas. Those intersections may also be complicated more by the application of feminist and rhetorical theories. Although this paper is not yet complete, I expect to conclude with a number of ways in which the medical community could be more transparent and ethical in its presentation of fetal ultrasound to potential users.