Ethics of Terminating Pregnancy With an Abnormal Fetus

Topic: Medical Ethics
Words: 826 Pages: 3

Abortion has been an important topic in the fields of healthcare and ethics for a long time. The complexity of this issue from the perspective of morality only amplifies with the consideration of aborting a fetus with an abnormality. The case study that will be analyzed in the present paper features a situation of a married couple of immigrants with economic struggles, Marco and Jessica, whose fetus has been diagnosed with physical abnormalities and the potential of having Down syndrome. The woman is given a choice of either giving birth to a child with a disability or terminating the pregnancy given the conditions. The interests of both individuals in the marriage matter, Jessica as the patient, are responsible for making a decision based on her beliefs about the moral status of the fetus. Her decision is particularly influenced by the doctor, her husband, and Aunt Maria. Jessica considers economic, moral, religious, and health implications when making a decision.

From the point of view of a Christian approach to human persons, the moral status of an individual is predetermined by the creation of a human as God intended. In such a manner, the concept of human dignity is viewed from the perspective of anthropological, legal, and moral domains. In particular, the moral dignity of a human being is in the right to live and be a moral agent to make proper moral decisions. Christianity values life over anything else, which is why abortion is viewed as a killing. Abortion causes suffering to the unborn human being, which is why the Christian views on human nature are intertwined with the theory of sentience. While a moral status is considered to be applicable to beings that are capable of feeling pain and pleasure, it is immoral to kill a fetus since it is already God’s creature from the very first days of existence.

Given the circumstances in which Jessica and her husband have occurred, the decision is not easy. The couple understands that raising a child with abnormalities will be financially struggling, which will impede the quality of their family’s life. Marco seems to be guided by the theory of consciousness, implying that it might be morally justifiable to make abortion at this stage because the fetus has not formed into a human being capable of consciousness.

Marco applies the theory of consciousness to validate the economic and psychological reasons for abortion. Considering this option, Jessica wants to “avoid physical risks, and avoid personal suffering involved in raising a child with serious medical needs or watching a child with a lethal anomaly die” (Gawron & Watson, 2017, p. 178). The doctor also refers to the theory of consciousness by articulating the option of making abortion in the first place. He acknowledges his patient about the possible outcomes of both her decisions and addresses other issues relevant to the decision-making.

Aunt Maria, on the other hand, appeals to the values of Christianity and applies the theory of sentience by encouraging Jessica not to commit a sin and to preserve the life of the baby as God intended. In her opinion, the right to live is the most important and valuable aspect of the situation; parents should not impose suffering on the child by taking their life but should give the baby a chance to live. As for Jessica’s reasoning and her consideration of the opinions of her husband, aunt, and doctor, she is guided by the theory of moral agency. As a moral agent, Jessica is responsible not only for her own life and body but also for the destiny of her unborn child, the future of her family, and the implications of her faith (Gawron & Watson, 2017). Moreover, Jessica is already considered a mother since she is pregnant. Her moral obligation is to ensure the best outcomes for her baby. However, given the array of complicating factors, the life of this baby and their happiness might be hindered due to various reasons.

In my opinion, it is morally acceptable and reasonable (under the circumstances outlined in the case study) to terminate Jessica’s pregnancy with an abnormal fetus by applying the theory of moral agency. The child is likely to be unhealthy and requires specialized care during life, which will be challenging for the family due to their immigrants status, insecure financial condition, and unstable social roles. The dignity and life of the baby, if born, will be jeopardized by the incapability of the parents to provide the necessary care and meet the baby’s basic needs. Moreover, given the prospects articulated by the doctor, there is a high level of possibility that the child’s life will be struggling. In such a manner, the parents should estimate their capabilities of making the child’s life dignified. Since they might not be able to provide for a child with disabilities, it might be better to terminate the pregnancy. It would be their moral obligation as moral agents to do the right thing.


Gawron, L. M., & Watson, K. (2017). Documenting moral agency: A qualitative analysis of abortion decision making for fetal indications. Contraception, 95(2), 175-180.

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