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Moral Status and the Nature of Human Person

Philosophy makes an attempt to gain a better understanding of the world through questioning the established traditions and the preconceived notions people often hold. Many of the questions formed in this process do not have a concrete answer and serve as a way for an individual to think about any given topic to form their own opinions. The question of moral status and the nature of the human person is one of the most debated topics in philosophy. Determining what exactly makes an individual, and from what point is the fetus considered to be a full-fledged person is not easy and varies with one’s beliefs. This question is complicated for a variety of reasons, including the problems of women’s choice and bodily autonomy. The analysis of this case study hopes to offer a personal perspective on the topic and discuss the nature of a human being.

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To get an answer to the most pressing questions, an individual can turn to one of the world’s core guiding philosophies, Christianity. Offering a theocentric explanation for the ways of life, it can be used by people to understand the world around them and themselves. When speaking about the nature of a human, this outlook offers a compelling perspective grounded in the authority of God. In Christianity, every living person is created by the will of God, meaning that human life is sacred and holds the greatest value (Müller, 2020). This belief ties into the concept of moral status used to describe the value an organism has in relation to determining whether it deserves full or partial ethical consideration. A human fetus has a questionable moral status due to its limited cognitive abilities and a dependence on the mother for survival (Isaacs, 2003). According to Christian values, the fetus is most likely to be given full moral rights and considered a separate person, largely due to the importance religion places on all human life.

As concerns the people in this case study, the characters hold varied positions on the topic of moral status. Jessica, as the mother and the most affected party, is torn between believing in the baby’s agency and her own financial security. The woman seems to think that all life is sacred, and abortion is not a viable solution to her problem, according to the text. Though at the same time she understands that it will be difficult to support a family with a severely disabled child and no way of ensuring the quality of life it will need. Her husband seems to share her beliefs, based on his indecisiveness when trying to deliver the new to his wife, but he prioritizes her feelings on the matter over his. The doctor, Wilson, seems to hold an opposing perspective to Jessica’s. His position as a medical professional informs his worldview and allows him to place the mother’s safety above the matters of the fetal agency. Lastly, Aunt Maria’s stance on the subject comes from the place of high religious faith, and she evidently believes in the intrinsic value of human life.

The beliefs of the characters are what motivates them and inform their decision-making process. Jessica, Marco, and Maria all come from a place of religious belief, valuing human life from the moment of conception. This is displayed in Maria’s insistence on keeping the baby, and Jessica’s hesitance to abort even in the face of serious consequences for her future. Marco, although seeming to not have as strong an opinion as his wife, still displays visible distress at the prospect of abortion and seeks to “soften the blow” for Jessica. The only one suggesting a starkly different approach to this issue is Dr. Wilson, who seems intent on convincing Jessica to perform an abortion as a more responsible and morally correct alternative. Dr. Wilson appears to think that the fetus deserves some moral consideration, though in his eyes the correct thing to do would be to spare baby the future suffering. His recommendations for action stem from a desire to help the mother first and foremost, as he believes that her quality of life will be too low if the baby is to be delivered.

As for myself, I feel like the fetus should not be given full moral consideration, and the mother’s agency should take first priority. The woman’s feelings on the matter should the ultimate deciding factor for considering abortion in any circumstance. As a fully dependent being with no measurable cognitive abilities, the fetus has no grounds to be considered a person (Jaworska & Tannenbaum, 2018). I feel that the mother has to have full control over her reproductive functions, and have the ability to decide for herself. If a mother’s safety, financial stability, or any other support mechanism is seriously threatened by a baby, I think that abortion should be a viable and societally acceptable option. In the specific case of Jessica, I think that she should not keep the baby. Judging from her current life circumstances, she does not have enough stable income and support to raise an impaired child.

References

Isaacs, D. (2003). Moral status of the fetus: Fetal rights or maternal autonomy? Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 39(1), 58–59. Web.

Jaworska, A., & Tannenbaum, J. (2018). The Grounds of Moral Status, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Web. 

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Müller, G. (2020). The Christian Understanding of the Human Person. Principles. Web.

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