Fetal Abnormality: Case Study

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Nowadays, the ethical dilemma surrounding the moral status of unborn children seems to attract much of the global media’s attention. Although the controversy surrounding abortions is nothing new, the recent developments in embryonic stem cell research urge the scientific community to start an active discussion of the place fetuses take up in humans’ collective moral worldview. The case study presented in this assignment does a great job at using storytelling to introduce multiple perspective in regards to the moral status of the fetus. This paper is going to discuss each of these perspectives in more detail, focusing on their influence on each person’s recommendation regarding the child. The purpose of the essay is to determine the course of action and moral theory that I favor in an effort to gain more insights into the concepts of human nature and dignity.

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Aunt Maria: The Christian View of the Nature of Humanity

Aunt Maria is the only person in the case study, who expresses her opinions clearly. Her faith guides her to pray and plead with Jessica and Marco to keep the baby alive. Unlike Marco, who worries about his and Jessica’s financial prospects, but promises to support his wife no matter what, Aunt Maria is determined to get her way. Her perspective is inherently Christian since she believes that the image of God is present in everyone. Every human being is an entity created with the breath of God, which is why it must be held to the highest regard (Hershenov, 2020). Aunt Maria states that she is against abortion since it would go against her views and beliefs. This religious viewpoint is most compatible with the theory of moral status based on human properties. As a result of her Christian worldview, Aunt Maria argues that the fetus has the moral status simply because it is human.

Dr. Wilson: Prioritizing Cognitive Properties

First and foremost, Dr. Wilson is a medical professional who needs to remain impartial to the decisions made by the patients. As a trusted medical practitioner, he has some authority in terms of the information he provides and the recommended course of action he advocates for. Jessica and Marco have to navigate the unfortunate situation by acknowledging the advice of Dr. Wilson, while being weighted down by the words and prayers of Aunt Maria. Dr. Wilson indirectly suggests that abortion may be the most appropriate option, considering the quality of life the child would have. Thus, he is guided by the moral status theory based on cognitive abilities. As a man of science, Dr. Wilson regards the fetus as in able if possessing moral status since it does not have any cognitive abilities (Shea, 2018). The cognitive functionality of a fetus is non-existent, which prompts Dr. Wilson to recommend Jessica and Marco to consider the child’s well-being and choose abortion.

Mario: The Concept of Relationality

It seems as if Marco is unable to choose just one course of action. Thus, while he expresses his concerns over his and Jessica’s financial future if they decide to have a child, he is also determined to follow the will of his wife. He regards the fetus as the entity possessing moral status simply because it is related to him and Jessica. Although he is concerned with the financial prospects of having a handicapped child, he seriously considers the fetus as a moral entity because it is related to him and his wife and, thus, shares the moral status with them.

Jessica: Making the Final Decision

It is apparent that Jessica is the one who has to make the final decision regarding the life of her unborn child. Essentially, she serves as a canvas, which reflects the views of each of the aforementioned actors of this case study. She recognizes the financial burden having a handicapped child can lead to, while acknowledging the recommendations of Dr. Wilson. In addition, she is clearly close with her Aunt Maria and shares her religious beliefs. From the content of the case study, however, it is evident that Jessica favors the moral status theory based on human properties. While making a decision, she does not simply disregard the life of the fetus based on its lack of cognitive properties of moral agency (Sebo, 2017). Instead, she acknowledges the humanity in her unborn child and struggles to make the final decision under the pressure of all the medical and financial risks she is reminded of.

My Point of View

Among my friends and family, I am known to be rather practical and rational when it comes to making important life decisions. While I cannot say with certainty what I would do in the face of such an unfortunate situation, I believe that, as a medical professional, I would advise abortion as the recommended course of action. First, I am in favor of the moral status theory based on cognitive properties. Thus, I believe that a fetus is not a moral agent because of the absence of cognitive functionality.


To sum it up, people often face challenging situations, which require hard decisions to be made. While everyone is used to using their moral compass to resolve day-to-day issues, the case study presents a scenario, which is a true moral dilemma. Based on a person’s worldview and beliefs, they can utilize a variety of different theories to determine the moral status of the fetus. Personally, I am in favor of the theory based on cognitive properties, which states that moral status is determined by one’s cognitive functionality.

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Hershenov, D. B. (2020). What must pro‐lifers believe about the moral status of embryos? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 101(2), 186-202.

Sebo, J. (2017). Agency and moral status. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 14(1), 1-22.

Shea, M. (2018). Human nature and moral status in bioethics. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 43(2), 115-131.

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NursingBird. (2022, July 18). Fetal Abnormality: Case Study. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/


NursingBird. (2022, July 18). Fetal Abnormality: Case Study. https://nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/

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"Fetal Abnormality: Case Study." NursingBird, 18 July 2022, nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/.


NursingBird. (2022) 'Fetal Abnormality: Case Study'. 18 July.


NursingBird. 2022. "Fetal Abnormality: Case Study." July 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/.

1. NursingBird. "Fetal Abnormality: Case Study." July 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/.


NursingBird. "Fetal Abnormality: Case Study." July 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/fetal-abnormality-case-study/.