Fetal abnormality remains one of the contentious moral issues portrayed as a fight between the fetus’s right to life and the mother’s right to decide. Some moral theories support the abortion of fetuses with congenital diseases while other protests against abortions irrespective of the predicted biological, physical, or psychological problems. Fetal abnormality is the abnormal development of a fetus in the mother’s womb which if not removed leads to the development of an abnormal child. To understand the role of morality and ethics in the decision of keeping or removing the fetus we consider a real-life scenario. Discussion of different viewpoints that each party holds in the present case depicts how different moral theories support their arguments (Jotkowitz & Zivotofsky, 2010).
Theories used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Williams
The discovery of abnormal fetus growth raises concerns for the parents as Marco and Jessica belong to the working class. Jessica and Marco undergo conflicting situation as they need to choose between financial stability or the birth of an abnormal child. The continuation of the pregnancy will contribute to a financial and economic burden for the parents. Dr. Williams suggests abortion of the fetus that is a medically wise choice. Aunt Maria is against the decision of abortion because she thinks taking a life of a fetus is immoral and against the will of God. She protests that Jessica needs to fulfill her responsibilities as a mother and continue a pregnancy. The utilitarian theory of ethics supports the viewpoint of Dr. Williams as it confers the idea of maximizing utility. Dr. Williams adopts a utilitarian approach to provide a conventional framework and justification for aborting an abnormal fetus. The theory allows him to think about the consequences of the action that is killing or saving a child.
The deontological theory of ethics supports Aunt Maria’s viewpoint as it emphasizes more on moral principles and obligations. The theory does not consider the results of the actions and focuses only on the rule-based ethics and standards that restrict individuals from taking actions that are outside morality. Maria does not consider the outcomes of continuing pregnancy. Jessica and Marco also use the utilitarian theory of ethics to determine the moral status of the abnormal fetus as their emphasis remains on the consequences of the actions. In the present scenario, their considerations of the economic and social implications of keeping a fetus reflect its relevance with a utilitarian approach (Ştefan, 2014).
Influence of theories on actions
The actions and recommendations of each in the present scenario reflects the significant role played by respective moral theories. The actions and recommendations of Maria to keep the fetus exhibit influence of the deontological theory of ethics. The theory suggests that every action is moral that follows ethical principles. The theory focuses more on the behavior of an individual rather than the consequences. Maria in the present case ignores the effects of keeping an abnormal fetus and represents no concerns related to the development of an abnormal and incompetent child. Deontology states that the deciding authority must not ignore moral philosophy and must be able to choose what is right. Deontology recommends that the mother of the abnormal fetus must fulfill her moral obligation and continue a pregnancy. The decision of abortion under deontological philosophy remains unethical and wrong.
The actions and viewpoints of Dr. Williams display strong relevance to the moral theory of consequentialism. William makes his suggestions of intelligence choice under the influence of the consequentialist approach. The philosophy suggests that the morality of an action depends on the consequences. Another premise of the theory reflects that the best actions lead to the maximization of benefit for the maximum number of people. The theory of utilitarianism suggests that there must be a moral reason that supports a particular action. Williams’s ideas reflect the foundations of Kant’s utilitarian theory because he chooses the option that leads to the benefit of larger people. The thoughts of Jessica and Mario also reflect utilitarian theory as they focus on the consequences. According to Kant’s philosophy causing harm to few can be justified if it derives benefit for many. Kant’s utilitarian theory recommends killing the fetus as it saves the parents from a socio-economic burden (Berry, 2016).
I think considering the condition of the fetus and the results of the examination discontinuing pregnancy will not be unethical. I agree with Kant’s theory of utilitarianism because in keeping or killing the fetus one needs to think about the consequences. As the development of the fetus will give birth to an abnormal child with Down’s syndrome, it would involve discomfort and pain for many including the parents. The child with also endures pain as the treatments used to keep him alive are painful (Ştefan, 2014). I believe that the mother must have the freedom to choose if she wants to bring the fetus to life or not. We cannot just rely on the principles and obligations that one has towards each other because in real life handling things demands wise decisions. I also support dr. Williams’s suggestion of terminating the pregnancy is because Marco and Jessica belong to the working class and they will face an economic burden thus reflecting their inefficiency in providing adequate medication and treatments to the abnormal child (Berry, 2016). The utilitarian or consequentialist theory of ethics supports my recommendation of killing a child. The comparison of the outcomes reflects that a dead fetus will endure less pain compared to a surviving fetus which later grows to an abnormal child.
Ştefan, I. (2014). Arguments for and Against Abortion regarding Teleological and Deontological Theories. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol 149, 927-935.
Berry, T. (2016). A contractarian approach to the ethics of genetic-selective abortion. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 3 (2).
Jotkowitz, A., & Zivotofsky, A. Z. (2010). The ethics of abortions for fetuses with congenital abnormalities. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, 152 (2), 148-51.