Fetal Abnormality: A Case Study on Moral Status

Fetal Abnormality: A Case Study on Moral Status

An explanation of the moral status of a being can be a cumbersome process given the possibility of a personal bias towards own viewpoint. Such is the case due to the inclination of different ideologies to explain the morality of a being concerning a particular scenario or situation. A typical example of the diverse nature of the different people beliefs about an action is the existence of theories describing the moral status of a being. Such theories include theories based on human relationships, cognitive properties, moral agency and human biological properties (Rusthoven& Bartholomew, 2014). A befitting example of an instance that captures these theoretical frameworks at one ago is a fetal abnormality case study.  In this scenario, all the involved characters exhibit a different perspective about the fate of the fetus upon the release of the scan results. In essence, an analysis of this case study is central to this discussion, whose aim is to illustrate how different persons portray morality.

To begin with, Dr. Wilson demonstrates a straightforward utilization of the theory based on human relationships. In this theoretical framework, the most important thing to an individual is the preservation of the human relationships that he/she possesses. As such, these relationships will inform the moral obligation that the individual must uphold. Similarly, in this instance, Dr. Wilson exhibits a strong claim of his reliance on this theory by his desire of acting in a manner that will preserve the therapeutic patient-physician relationship. Such is the case when he refuses to compromise his moral duty of not concealing the truth to the patient despite the request by Marco to do so. Furthermore, in his professional realm terminating the pregnancy is sensible given the poor quality of life that awaits the fetus if the pregnancy proceeds up to term(Butts & Rich, 2011). Clearly, with such instances, there is no doubt that Dr. Wilson is utilizing the theory based on human relationship.

The theory based on cognitive properties also comes to the fore through the actions of Marco. Rusthoven and Bartholomew, (2014) are of the opinion that cognitive features such as understanding, awareness, and perception are of the essence in the conferring of morality to an individual using this theory. A case in point of Marco’s utilization of this framework is evident when he shows awareness and comprehension that telling the truth to Jessica as soon after the scan results, will only but cause heartache to his wife. Consequently, he seeks to conceal these results by telling Dr. Wilson to withhold the truth until when Jessica can bear with it. Additionally, he depicts this theory through his open-mindedness concerning the issue of letting the pregnancy to reach to term. An awareness of this kind together with perception and understanding are reasons enough to conclude that Marco solely depends on this moral theory.

Jessica also depicts another type of moral theory through her portrayal in the scenario. In her case, she is relying on the theory of moral agency. Such is the case given her thoughts and actions that are characteristic to a moral agent that this theory proposes. According to this framework, a moral agent is a person that pauses for a moment to weigh the alternatives that he/she has as an individual before making the final decision(Beauchamp & Childress, 2012). Jessica demonstrates the same with her action of thinking in the criticality of the possible consequences of letting the pregnancy reach to term. Moreover, she values human life since she is not ready to give in to the idea of aborting the fetus despite the abnormality. Evidently, all these instances are suggestive of the claim that Jessica is a moral being that utilizes the moral agency theory to anchor her decision.

On the contrary, Auntie Maria also demonstrates her dependence on the theory based on human characteristics. In this ideology, morality is dependent on the possession of human biological properties. Thus, conferring a moral status to an individual is firmly relies on his/her possession of such properties(Beauchamp & Childress, 2012). Likewise, to this scenario, Auntie Maria considers the fetus, as a gift from God that has life in it. The presence of life is evidence enough that the fetus regardless of the abnormality, must earn an opportunity to experience life since it is a moral being. Furthermore, Maria also points out that the fetus is in the image of God, which is a standard for all human beings. Such citations by Auntie Maria are reasons enough to conclude that she deeply relies on the theory based on human properties to inform her argument.

Lastly, deciding upon which theory best depicts the right ideas that must be universal is not an easy process. However, in overall terms, the theory utilized by Jessica, theory of moral agency stands out of them all. Such is the case given its potential to calculate the advantage and disadvantage of a particular course of action. Moreover, it reflects upon the realities of the situation and selects the best solution through analytical methods (Rusthoven& Bartholomew, 2014). Therefore, its outcome is always the best since one uses the benchmark of a rational being faced with the same situation.

In conclusion, it is beyond doubt that people have varied viewpoints about morality. Such is the case in the analyzed case scenario of fetal abnormality. Therefore, an understanding of all the theories and their applications is of the essence in making the right choice. However, without such awareness, poor outcomes from actions carried out are inevitable.





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

Butts, J. & Rich, K. (2011).Philosophies and theories for advanced nursing practice (1st ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

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