Fetal Abnormality Case Study
The advancement of medical technology has made it possible to detect medical abnormalities while a child is still a fetus and can create difficult choices for parents to make if severe anomalies are discovered. There are many theories regarding the moral status of the fetus that can be applied when deciding how to proceed if these abnormalities are detected. In the fetal abnormality case study, Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson each have varying opinions on what course of action to take based on these different theories of moral status.
Jessica is torn between her desire to be financially independent and her belief that all life has value. Her belief is what Sebo (n.d.) describes as moral status based on something simply being alive, including all living organisms and ecosystems, etc. She may decide not to terminate her pregnancy because all life is sacred to her and has its own value and rights. Marco is also worried about how having a disabled child will be a financial burden. However, it is not definite that the child will even have Down Syndrome or what its level of functioning will be, or if the child will only be born without arms and no mental disability. Marco is possibly viewing the fetus at its current age as lacking moral status according to three theories, moral status based on moral agency, consciousness, and sentience (Grand Canyon University [GCU] 2015; Sebo, n.d.). Moral agency is the ability to make judgments about whether actions are right or wrong and if intentions can be morally judged (GCU, 2015). According to studies, fetuses do not develop consciousness (rationality or cognitive properties) or sentience (the ability to feel pleasure or pain) until around week 28 (Kleeman, 2005; Koch, 2009). Based on the information given in the case study, the fetus is less than 28 weeks. Marco may discuss termination with Jessica based on these three theories. Dr. Wilson also takes the stance on the fetus lacking moral...
References: Jaworska, A., & Tannenbaum, J. (2013). The grounds of moral status. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online. E. N. Zalta (Ed.). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2013/entries/grounds-moral-status/
Grand Canyon University. (2015). Theological anthropology and the phenomenology of disease and illness [Lecture note]. Retrieved from https://lc-ugrad1.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/user/users.html?operation=loggedIn#/learningPlatform/loudBooks/loudbooks.html?currentTopicname=Theological%20Anthropology%20and%20the%20Phenomenology%20of%20Disease%20and%20Illness&viewPage=current&operation=innerPage&topicMaterialId=9be55830-e267-456e-9cde-1793dd19e540&contentId=7d80375a-2e02-4c06-8b2c-c8449e6b23af&
Kleeman, E. (2005). When does a fetus feel pain? Retrieved from http://discovermagazine.com/2005/dec/fetus-feel-pain
Koch, C. (2009). When does consciousness arise in human babies? Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-does-consciousness-arise/
Sebo, J. (n.d.). Ethics: Moral status [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/wi-phi/value-theory-1/v/moral-status
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