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Fetal Abnormality and Ethical Dilemms of Abortion


In the case study “Fetal Abnormality”, four characters face the same problem that is an abnormal condition of a fetus and the necessity to decide if to save a child or to consider abortion as the only appropriate solution. Each character takes a certain position and finds it necessary to support this choice by any possible means. For example, Marco, a father of a family, does not want to inform the wife about potential problems with their future child and tries to support his wife with any decision of hers. Dr. Wilson, a primary attending physician, offers abortion from a medical and “scientific” point of view. Aunt Maria, who had been providing the couple with home during the last three years before they moved, believes in the power of God and suggests having a child and believing that God can save all of them. In her turn, Jessica, the wife, is torn between her hopes and her socioeconomic concerns.

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Theories Used by Characters and Recommendations

Each character takes a certain position and uses different arguments to support their choice and moral status that is characterized by independent moral importance (Butts & Rich, 2015). For example, the position of Dr. Wilson is rather clear. He has a certain experience in medicine and uses his medical and scientific knowledge to conclude that abortion should be accepted. He uses some facts to prove his position, including the results of a preliminary ultrasound that show a fetus has two arms poorly developed or undeveloped at all. Besides, there is a 25% chance of having a child with Down syndrome. Regarding such facts and professional opinions, the doctor chooses the theory based on cognitive perspectives. His recommendations are based on biological criteria and further development of a child with such disabilities.

Marco and Aunt Marie represent the position that can be interpreted under the theory based on relationships. According to this theory, people have to establish relationships and consider their roles and responsibilities. The obligation of Marco as a father of a family is to support his wife and think about the future of each family member. Marco does not want to hurt the feelings of his wife and searches for an appropriate moment to inform her about the results of lab tests. In Marco’s situation, this theory of relationships may be supported by the theory based on sentience because the man thinks about possible pain that confers upon a moral status. In comparison to Marco, the position of Aunt Maria is definite: the woman wants Jessica to think about her motherhood obligations and her faith in God. It is a good example of the theory based on relationships when obligations and beliefs play an important role. Her recommendations are personal regarding the level of trust and personal beliefs.

Jessica is the character who represents the decisions made regarding the theory of moral agency. She is a moral agent because she can make moral judgments concerning the right and wrong aspects of her decisions and consider her motives (Duwell, 2013). In comparison to other characters, Jessica is an agent with certain moral obligations that can be used as a trump against other people’s opinions (Sher, 2012). Besides, she is the only one who can influence the moral status of her future child. It is her decision if to save a fetus or to choose abortion. The consideration of the economic situation in her family is another important aspect for consideration. Besides, Jessica’s position and recommendations are based on the theory of relationships she develops with her husband, her doctor, and her aunt. Her attitude to these people may influence her thoughts and her final decision as well.

Personal Attitude to Theories and Choices

In general, the position and recommendations of each character have a clear point and a rationale. Dr. Wilson is correct in his judgments to use abortion to avoid further complications with a child, the necessity to pay numerous bills for treatment, and the obligations in regards to a child who has a 25% chance to have Down syndrome.

In my opinion, the theories and recommendations of Aunt Marie and Marco are weak because they are based on relationships they develop with Jessica. Marco does not help his wife to choose appropriate reasons and make a final decision, and Aunt Marie uses her faith as the only evident support that can be offered. Though moral and emotional support plays an important role in motherhood, it is not enough to use this argument in this particular case.

Finally, the theory based on the moral agency chosen by Jessica has clear explanations. The woman understands her responsibility in regards to her future child. Besides, she is a wife, and she realizes that her family experiences certain financial and socioeconomic problems. Also, she cannot neglect her religious beliefs. She is at a loss, and this outcome is hard to avoid. Her decision remains to be one of the most serious concerns in this situation.

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I believe that the theory of cognitive properties is the most effective option because it is characterized by an understanding, a possibility to reflect upon the current state of affairs, and the necessity to take any action that may lead to positive results in the future, e.g., an attempt to give birth to another healthy child.


Butts, J.B., & Rich, K.L. (2015). Nursing ethics: Across the curriculum into practice (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Duwell, M. (2013). Bioethics: Methods, theories, domains. New York, NY: Routledge.

Sher, G. (2012). Ethics: Essential readings in moral theory. New York, NY: Routledge.

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