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Case Study On Fetal Abnormality

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Which theory or theories are being used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson to determine the moral status of the fetus? Explain. How does the theory determine or influence each of their recommendation for action?  What theory do you agree with? How would the theory determine or influence the recommendation for action?


Theories of moral status:

The most influential theory of moral status is the notion of personhood where it is seen that certain human beings posses not only a capacity for making a decision but also for more complex mental activities like self-awareness, a sense of responsibility and reasoning and they also have the possession of the features and capacities like the ability to reason, self-motivated activity and consciousness. Here the doctor goes through a conflict theory where it is difficult for the doctor to explain the facts to the father as well as to the aunt (Manninen et al (2007). The father is unable to make a decision as he is becoming a father for the first time and is not be able to reason out the cause of the doctor’s decision. The aunt is thinking from a religious point of view where she fears God and wants the couple to leave it the way God wants it to be. Finally the mother goes through fear and coping theory were she is torn between the world and the feeling of motherhood. This weakens her mental strength and capacity to cope up with this situation. Therefore the entire situation goes against the birth of the fetus in this case study.

The influence of actions:

Every individual thinks in different ways and act as per the condition. Here the doctor tries to convey the facts about the health condition of the fetus and finds it necessary to terminate or end the pregnancy as the later results will be very drastic for the child to cope up with in future. Whereas the father thinks that it is better to keep the deformity news of the fetus a secret from the mother as he thinks it would affect her mentally as well as physically if she got to know the truth about the fetus’s abnormality. Hence he tries to convince the doctor not to mention it to the mother and hide the truth from her as the main aim of the doctor is to convey the message of the condition of the fetus to the mother. The aunt here is praying to god and crying her heart out to Him as she thinks that God would be able to listen to her prayers and change the condition of the fetus and make things better. Finally the mother after hearing about the abnormal condition of the fetus is unable to decide what the best thing she can do as she is emotional and not strong enough to cope up with the situation and take a decision (Saunders et al (2006). She also feels the sense of being torn between the world and her heart. Therefore all these situations of conflict, anxiety and coping factor are the causes of the influence of actions.


To conclude the statement of the theories it can be said that different individuals deal with different situations in a varied manner. Here the doctor has diagnosed the condition of Down syndrome of the fetus and is concerned about the health factor of the fetus and also feels it is a genetic problem and can lead to carrying over from one generation to the other. The doctor is also considering the financial aspects as the treatment process of the fetus in future would be very expensive as proper medication has to be done and also once the baby is born he would constantly require medical treatment. Here the conflict of decision making is seen where the doctor has to convince the father to follow his instructions and inform the mother about the present situation and condition of the fetus. The doctor must also have the patience in doing this and not lose his temperament. Next the parents experience the coping theory where they have to be aware of all the consequences of the situation and health condition of the fetus and also be ready to accept the termination of the pregnancy which is very tough for the mother. The mother faces a challenge of coping up with the situation as she has to keep her mind open to agree with the doctor as the financial and economic conditions of the parents are not that good so as to give birth to a child who is faced with various abnormalities. The mother also feels that she would be killing a child and his identity by going through the process of abortion and feels it’s not ethically right to do it. Therefore the mother has to have a matured mind and needs to cope up with the situation in a positive way.



Manninen, Bertha. "Revisiting the Argument from Fetal Potential." Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2, no. 1 (2007).

Saunders, Peter. "The Moral Status of the Embryo." Nucleus  (2006).

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