Case Study on Moral Status
The Fetal Abnormality case study presents the moral implications associated with the treatment options for a Mexican immigrant pregnant with a baby suffering from fetal abnormality and probable risk of Down syndrome. The study highlights the moral perspectives of all individuals including Jessica, her family members, and her doctor. The ethical debate about what must be done about the fetus is central to this study. This paper analyses the Christian view of human nature and the theory of moral status while exploring the beliefs of all individuals. The paper further highlights the theory applicable to each person and concludes with a personal opinion.
Christian Worldview and Theory of Moral Status
Moral status considers the ethical principles applicable to human life and its value (Gray, 2019). While some theorists posit that all life is precious regardless of the type of life form, others negate this idea. In the field of medical sciences, the concept of moral status is extremely important as it entails the practitioner’s judgment about the value of individuals and their inherent right to receive treatment following the ethical and moral benchmarks. The Christian worldview about the nature of human persons emphasizes that right from the time of conception, humans are entitled to a moral status on the virtue of being humans. This is irrespective of all other considerations such as cognitive development. The Christian view that attributes life in any form as sacred and worthy, is in line with the theory of moral status focusing on human properties. This theory considers humans as valuable entities due to the fundamental aspects that are particular only to human beings. The Christian view further posits that since God created human beings in his image, therefore, all form of human life is sacred, and this is the basis for giving value and dignity to human life (White, 2020).
Theories Employed by Individuals
The case study highlights the different stances taken by individuals to the treatment for fetal abnormalities and the probable risk of Down Syndrome in the unborn child.
Jessica is fearful of the socio-economic strain that a disabled child would cause however, she believes that all life is sacred. This shows that she attributes moral status to human life based on basic human traits. Considering all life forms valuable is the main tenet of the theory of human properties. Moreover, Jessica is a moral agent trying to make the best decision in this scenario (Purtilo & Doherty, 2011).
Marco is initially hesitant to share the news with Jessica however, later he is eager to back his wife’s verdict. This validates the model founded on relationships as the child’s moral status may alter based on the decision taken by Jessica.
Aunt Maria’s actions entail the use of the theory of human properties. Upon hearing the news, she immediately starts praying and calling the priest. She also pleads with Jessica to complete her pregnancy and allow the intention of God to take place. These actions follow the theory of human properties that value all human life forms regardless of any deficiencies. There is also some evidence of Maria using theory based on relationships as she pleads to Jessica to consider her responsibilities as a mother.
Dr. Wilson employs the moral status theory of cognitive properties. This theory attributes moral status to humans if they exhibit basic cognition. Communication and reasoning are important aspects to consider in this theory. Dr. Wilson has considered all possibilities and presented the family with the probable course of action; however, his inclination is towards the termination of this pregnancy. His medical advice is based upon knowledge of the child’s disabilities and the financial constraints that the family will face while caring for such a child. The disabilities would lead to a cognitively impaired child, hence the doctor’s recommendation for an abortion. In Dr. Wilson’s view, the fetus has no moral status, therefore, abortion is acceptable (White, 2020).
The theory that I agree with the most is the theory based on cognitive properties. The fetus must develop cognition that would be the basis of future development after birth. This cognition would confer moral status upon the fetus. Although all human life is sacred, however, I believe that birthing a child while being aware of its severe developmental abnormalities is cruelty as it would condemn it to a life filled with suffering. The theory of sentience also posits that pain must not be caused to a sentient being and although aborting it would cause it pain, this would be much less than a life filled with suffering. The fetus in the case study not only had physical deformities, but it also had a great risk of being born with down syndrome, therefore, I believe that the right decision is to abort such a pregnancy and save the child from a lifetime of pain and misery.
The four individuals presented in this case study hold different views regarding the value associated with human life. While abortion is immoral and negates God’s plans, the fetal deformities influenced the doctor’s recommendation. However, I believe that as medical professionals, complete information must be provided to the patient and our personal views must not influence the patient’s decisions.
Gray, K. (2019). Moral Status: Definition, Philosophy & Criteria. Study.Com. https://study.com/academy/lesson/moral-status-definition-philosophy-criteria.html
Purtilo, R. B., & Doherty, R. F. (2011). Ethical dimensions in the health professions. Elsevier/Saunders.
White, N. (2020). Practicing Dignity: An Introduction to Christian Values and Decision Making in Health Care. https://lc.gcumedia.com/phi413v/practicing-dignity-an-introduction-to-christian-values-and-decision-making-in-health-care/v1.1/#/chapter/2