Case Study on Moral Status (Fetal Abnormality)

Case Study on Moral Status (Fetal Abnormality)

In the contemporary medical world, the description of the moral status of a being is one that commonly draws many conflicting views. Strengthening this deduction is the varied number of theories put forward for the explanation of the moralstatus of a being. According to Rusthovenand Bartholomew, (2014), befitting examples of such theories include but not limited to theories based on cognitive properties,human biological properties,moral agency andhuman relationships. A case scenario that depicts individuals with divergent opinions, anchored on these theories, is one that relates to fetal abnormality. In essence, this paper seeks to analyze this case scenario to its practical details and validate the existence of varied perceptions about the moral status of a being.

Primarily, Aunt Maria’s portrayal depictsher reliance on the theory based on human characteristics. Central to this theory is the ideology that the possession of human biological properties confers to the morality of an individual (Beauchamp & Childress, 2012). Auntie Maria values the fetus and considers it as God’s gift that possesses life. In her opinion, the presence of life, which makes it a moral being, is a valid and adequate reason for the preservation of pregnancy regardless of the abnormality it possesses. Notwithstanding, she cites that the fetus possesses the image of God that is standard property for all human beings. Based on these arguments, it is beyond doubt that Auntie Maria is dependent on the theory based on human properties to strengthen her argument.

Jessica on the other hand demonstrates a dependence on the theory of moral agency as evidenced by herdepiction in the case study. That is for sure because her inner struggle and actions are reflectiveof characteristics of a moral agent put forward by this theory. Purtilo, (2011) is of the opinion that a moral agent is one that takes time to consider and weigh all alternatives before arriving on the final decision of what suites her. Similar to this description is Jessica’s action of critically thinking of the possible ramifications of preserving the pregnancy. Additionally, she demonstrates her value for human life by considering the option of carrying the pregnancy up to term despite the abnormality of the fetus. With such illustrations, it is beyond doubt that Jessica is a moral agent given her utilization of the theory of moral agency to inform her decision.

The theory based on human relationshipsis also evident through Dr. Wilson’s actions and conversations with other characters in the case study. Of significance to this theory is the need for preserving human relationships at all times since they inform the moral obligation of an individual (Rusthoven& Bartholomew, 2014).Dr. Wilson demonstrates the same by his expressionof the desire to preserve the therapeutic patient-physician relationship at all cost through his actions in this case scenario. Such is the case as highlighted by his refusal to compromise his moral duty of hiding the truth to his patient. Dr. Wilson categorically spells out to Marco that he cannot be part of concealing the truth from Jessica because he owes her the information about the results as part of his moral obligation to the patient. Additionally, Dr. Wilson performs his moral duty of asking Jessica to pursue the option of abortion given the poor quality of life awaiting the fetus upon birth.Clearly, Dr. Wilson’s actions are reflective of the fact that maintenance of human relationships is paramount for moral beings as proposed in the theory based on human relationships.

On the other hand, Marco’s depiction in the case scenario also has an explanation validating its morality. That is for sure because the theory based on cognitive properties suitably captures the morality of Marco’s actions.In this theoretical framework, possession of cognitive features like awareness, perception and understanding confers morality of a being (Beauchamp & Childress, 2012). Marcoshows great awareness when he seeks to stop Dr. Wilson from telling Jessica the truth about the fetus status because it will definitely destroy her given her vulnerability at that point in time. Notwithstanding, he is open to the idea of letting the pregnancy to run its cause instead of terminating it. With such an awareness and understanding seen in Marco, it is beyond doubt that he is dependent on the theory based on cognitive properties to arrive at his decision.

Finally, based on the theories employed by the four characters in the case study, the theory of moral agency, utilized by Jessica, stands out and is practical in the contemporary world. That is for sure since this theory enables one to weigh all options and their consequences before arriving on any decision as well as analyzing the realities of a situation before settling on the most appropriate solution via in-depth analysis (Purtilo, 2011). As such, its outcome is often the most appropriate since it reflects the action that a rational being would have taken when in such circumstances.

In closure, from this discussion, it is apparent that human beings differ greatly on matters relating to morality. That is the case as evidenced in the analyzed case study of fetal abnormality. As such, there is need for understanding all the theories of morality if one is to apply the most appropriate among them all. In the absence of such a consideration, however, poor results are inevitable.




Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2012). Principles of biomedical ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Purtilo, R. (2011). Ethical dimensions in the health professions.5th ed.: Elsevier Saunders.

Rusthoven, J. & Bartholomew, C. (2014).Covenantal biomedical ethics for contemporary medicine.Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications.