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Case Study: Fetal Abnormality

Case Study: Fetal Abnormality

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The ultimate decision to terminate or keep a pregnancy depends on the bioethical theory adopted by the patient, physicians, and immediate family members. Ethical dilemmas arise when both the patient and the provider use different bioethical approaches in decision-making, as it happens in the case study on fetal abnormality. As such, it is paramount to determine bioethical theories utilized by Jessica, Marco, Dr. Wilson, and Maria to make the final decision regarding keeping or terminating a pregnancy to have a critical review on how they impact final recommendations.

Determination of Moral Status

In the case scenario on fetal abnormality, various stakeholders utilize different theories to determine the moral status of the fetus. On his part, Dr. Wilson supports abortion after finding multiple defects that can potentially affect the quality of life of the fetus ones born. Throughout his actions and the determination of the moral status, Dr. Wilson employs the deontological ethical theory. According to Mandal, Ponnambath, and Parija (2013), this approach is more focused on fulfilling ones duties and obligations, and states that actions are not merely justified based on outcomes. In the case scenario, Dr. Wilson aims at discharging his moral duty of informing Jessica about test results. As such, he does not emphasize the impending status on the fetus, but is instead focused more on performing his role of advising the patient regardless of the view of her husband.

On the other hand, Maria does not support the abortion arguing from the perspective different from that taken by the doctor. In her determination of the moral status of the fetus, she uses the right-based ethical theory that prioritizes the protection of rights above anything else (Beauchamp & Childress, 2013). According to Pasini (2016), the rights approach to ethical decision making is guided by universal principles that govern human actions. As such, Maria challenges Jessica to do what is ethically right to the fetus first as a mother and second as required by God. To this end, the former finds the fetus as the one having moral status since it ought to be respected as a human being. Maria sees the need to allow Gods will to prevail.

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Jessica is concerned about the financial implication of keeping the pregnancy and bringing up a child with physical disabilities and the need to treat life as sacred. As such, she utilizes the utilitarian theory to determine the moral status of the fetus. According to Mandal et al. (2013), decisions made based on this approach are only justified based on the outcome and depending on how many people it will affect. Jessica has to consider her choice between the prospectus of empowering her familys future socioeconomic position by terminating the pregnancy to reduce the financial cost or respecting life as sacred and bear the child. Thus, the moral status of the baby will be determined based on Jessicas ability to decide between the two options.

Marco decides to support whichever choice her wife, Jessica, will make. As such, he tends to lean more on the virtue ethics theory. According to Baumane-Vitolina, Cals, and Sumilo (2016), the latter is more focused on persons character and not merely on the outcome of ones decision. The theory recognizes both emotional and motivating aspects that may push an individual to make a particular choice in the face of a moral dilemma and is thus more flexible. Therefore, Marcos final moral status determination will depend on his wifes decision.

Recommendation for Action

It is clear that various theories utilized by different decision-makers influence each partys recommendation for the next course of action. From the very beginning, Dr. Wilson is supportive of abortion terming it as being scientifically safe and medically approved. His view is supported in the scholarly world, where ultrasound screening has been found useful in detecting fetal abnormalities and early abortion of such pregnancies (Chasen & Kalish, 2013). Additionally, Dr. Wilson does not focus on the moral status of the infant, but only sees the outcome of a child who will have the reduced quality of life and the possibility of being burdensome to the parents. Thus, he is influenced by the deontological theory finding it his duty to advice the mother on the consequences of whichever action she takes and not merely having to decide on the moral status of the infant.

Marias focus on rights finds the fetus as having moral status. This theory influences her to view abortion as the wrong choice based on the fundamental human rights and religious virtues that guide what is justifiable and what cannot be justified as respect. On the other hand, the application of the utilitarianism theory has resulted in Jessica being torn in between the two worlds. She has to weigh between the benefits of terminating the pregnancy or keeping it and determine whether it will be more beneficial for her family to attain financial freedom or to let Gods will prevail as advised by Maria. Finally, Marco does not make any recommendation, as he is ready to abide by any decision made by his wife since he already understands her situation.

Personal Response to Case Study

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Personally, I abide by the virtue ethics theory. As things stand, Jessica is the only person who feels what she is undergoing and understands the implication of whatever decision she will make fully. As such, only she has the final say in the determination of the moral status of the child. However, while it is true that Jessica has the ultimate authority to decide on it, she ought to consider what is humanly justifiable and make a decision that is supported by universal human rights. While it is true that the baby may have physical disabilities, nothing can justify terminating a human life as a Christian. As such, Jessica should treat the unborn fetus as a person with its rights that ought to be respected. Therefore, she should consider Marias advice and focus first on her relationship with the unborn baby and secondly the one with God as a Christian. Additionally, Manninen (2015) find that mothers have moral responsibility to support or destroy lives of other human beings. Although human rights and Christian values may apply, neither the doctor nor Maria should push Jessica towards any decision. As such, it is my opinion that the virtue ethics theory should prevail in solving the ethical dilemma and determining the moral status of the fetus.

Conclusion

It is clear that the bioethical theory utilized by various parties in healthcare will affect the final recommendations that will be made. Healthcare professionals should recognize multiple theories and try to fit them into the context of the principal parties in determining the last course of action. While the ethical approach utilized by individuals may differ, healthcare employees should be guided by virtue ethics in advising family members on decision-making.

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