The presented study touches upon one of the most difficult and yet common dilemmas in the modern world. Jessica is a working woman with hopes and aspirations for a successful and financially stable future. Unfortunately, it is in jeopardy due to a fetal abnormality that her unborn child has been diagnosed with. She is torn between two schools of moral theory: utilitarian theory and Christian ethics. The utilitarian point of view is represented by Dr. Wilson and Marco, while Jessica and her aunt Maria lean toward Christian ethics. This paper will examine the belief systems of these groups and the situation itself, as well as provide a personal opinion on the matter.
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The first of the opposing moral theories in this scenario is the utilitarian theory. This theory determines the morality of action largely depending on its outcome. The satisfactory search for good consequences is the primary goal of utilitarian actions. It is important to note that the definition of “good” varies among the people who believe in the utilitarian theory. This is a necessity of the theory however because following it literally could result in most everyday actions being considered immoral because they do not provide the “best” possible outcome.
Leisurely activities like going out to see a movie do not have a great benefit to most people, especially in comparison with charitable actions or personal improvements for example. This is why this moral theory is often utilized in difficult situations where the best possible positive results are the goal. The majority of the decisions are made rationally, but the theory permits harm to people if the results can be positive. Out of the people present, it is possible that Marco and Dr. Wilson hold utilitarian beliefs. Both of them want the best for Jessica and realize that this situation can destroy all of the things they have worked for since they immigrated (Fok, Payne & Corey, 2014).
Christian ethics are based on the Christian religious belief system and include strict laws based on the various texts of the Bible. The beliefs may vary between denominations and the personal outlook on the text but have uniting values such as forgiveness, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and charity. This belief system is especially problematic in this case and other cases like it. Despite the generally positive message, its strict rules can lead to many negative outcomes, as well as the difficulty of debate between the opposing beliefs. Jessica and her aunt seem to both life by Christian ethics, but Jessica might have doubts as her future is on the line in this scenario (Crook, 2015).
While there are two ethical theories that go against each other in this situation, a possible third belief system is represented. The argument provided by Dr. Wilson could also be made by the Care ethics theory. Care ethics seek to provide the best care to the person that would encourage independent behavior and the least harm. They can apply to many situations, but they have deeper importance in medical practice due to the notion that care requires competency to be effective (Engster & Hamington, 2015).
Influence on Implementation
The three presented theories vary in their influence on the decisions of the participants. Despite the initial doubts, Marco is not selfish and wants Jessica to make the decision herself while being ready to support her. However, the preferred scenario for him would lead to abortion because he sees the fetus abnormality as a burden that could leave them with no financial security. He believes that the end would justify the means because the alternative could prove to be disastrous for him and Jessica.
Aunt Maria is a strict believer in God and Christian ethics. Her decision is based solely on the law that all life is sacred, and that people should go through with “God’s plan” for them. In this case, it would mean that Jessica should keep the child and raise it to the best of her ability because God has a plan for everyone. The predetermined nature of life is a topic of contention among Christian believers and varies between denominations. However, it is clear that Maria strongly believes in it and Jessica might share her beliefs.
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Dr. Wilson might be influenced by both care and utilitarian ethics. He knows how difficult life could be for a child with such severe abnormalities, and what toll it would have on the parents’ psychological and economic conditions. Therefore he seeks to ease the suffering of both the unborn child and Jessica. It is possible that he represents both belief structures are it combines the notion that suffering is unacceptable when it can be prevented, and that the end justifies the means.
Any scenario that involves abortion is difficult due to various factors. The undefined nature of personhood and the consequences for the mother in these scenarios can often be hard to deal with. The presented case outlined three possible points of view. Real situations can lead to similar perspectives as well as many others.
Crook, R. (2015). An introduction to Christian ethics. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Engster, D., & Hamington, M. (2015). Care ethics and political theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Fok, L., Payne, D., & Corey, C. (2014). Cultural values, utilitarian orientation, and ethical decision making: A comparison of U.S. and Puerto Rican professionals. Journal of Business Ethics, 134(2), 263-279.