Case Study: Fetal Abnormality

Jessica is a 30-year-old immigrant from Mexico City. She and her husband Marco have been in the United States for the last three years and have finally earned enough money to move out of their Aunt Maria’s home and into an apartment of their own. They are both hard workers. Jessica works 50 hours a week at a local restaurant and Marco has been contracting side jobs in construction. Six months before their move to an apartment, Jessica finds out she is pregnant.

Four months later, Jessica and Marco arrive at the county hospital, a large, public, nonteaching hospital. A preliminary ultrasound indicates a possible abnormality with the fetus. Further scans are conducted, and it is determined that the fetus has a rare condition in which it has not developed any arms and will not likely develop them. There is also a 25% chance that the fetus may have Down syndrome.

Dr. Wilson, the primary attending physician, is seeing Jessica for the first time, since she and Marco did not receive earlier prenatal care over concerns about finances. Marco insists that Dr. Wilson refrain from telling Jessica the scan results, assuring him that he will tell his wife himself when she is emotionally ready for the news. While Marco and Dr. Wilson are talking in another room, Aunt Maria walks into the room with a distressed look on her face. She can tell that something is wrong and inquires of Dr. Wilson. After hearing of the diagnosis, she walks out of the room wailing loudly and praying aloud.

Marco and Dr. Wilson continue their discussion, and Dr. Wilson insists that he has an obligation to Jessica as his patient and that she has a right to know the diagnosis of the fetus. He furthermore is intent on discussing all relevant factors and options regarding the next step, including abortion. Marco insists on taking some time to think of how to break the news to Jessica, but Dr. Wilson, frustrated with the direction of the conversation, informs the husband that such a choice is not his to make. Dr. Wilson proceeds back across the hall, where he walks in on Aunt Maria awkwardly praying with Jessica and phoning the priest. At that point, Dr. Wilson gently but briefly informs Jessica of the diagnosis and lays out the option for abortion as a responsible medical alternative, given the quality of life such a child would have. Jessica looks at him and struggles to hold back her tears.

Jessica is torn between her hopes of a better socioeconomic position and increased independence, along with her conviction that all life is sacred. Marco will support Jessica in whatever decision she makes but is finding it difficult not to view the pregnancy and the prospects of a disabled child as a burden and a barrier to their economic security and plans. Dr. Wilson lays out all of the options but clearly makes his view known that abortion is “scientifically” and medically a wise choice in this situation. Aunt Maria pleads with Jessica to follow through with the pregnancy and allow what “God intends” to take place and urges Jessica to think of her responsibility as a mother.


Case Study on Moral Status

Christian View on Humans

 The Christian view maintains that everything is connected to God. God is connected to humanity because humans were created in his own image. Therefore, everyone was created to fulfil Gods’ purpose. However, after Adam and Eve were created, they did not follow his directive, they sinned, and God dispensed death upon humans. God gave humans the mark of nobility “freedom” as a sign of love. Despite the consequence of sin, God gave us Jesus Christ, the saviour. Consistent with the Christian view, heaven is eternal, but it is for those who repent the sin and live a righteous life. Therefore, Christians should understand evil and denounce it. Personhood theory is compatible with the Christian worldview. Personhood is the moral sense of being a moral agent. In this sense, one’s actions are praiseworthy or blameworthy. One would be eager to know what makes a person of moral character.  Personhood theory is connected to intrinsic human value and dignity. The intrinsic value of human come from within (self-ascribed) (Batavia & Nelson, 2017). Everyone is created with virtue because we are created in the image of God. Therefore, regardless of race, age, status, ability, everyone should be treated with respect—one’s perspective on values influences how they interact with bioethical issues.  A designated value gives rise to consciousness. As a result, a person becomes worthy of honour because they possess virtues.

Theory Determination and Influence

Everyone in the case study on fetal abnormality uses the personhood theory. Jessica and Maria are the only people who believe life is sacred. They see the importance of protecting life even after conception (Markowitz, 2017). Marco and the doctor feel that life starts after birth. Since Marco and the doctor are favoring abortion, they are proponents of Australian philosopher peter singer. According to the philosopher, ‘the key to personhood is sentience, the ability to feel pleasure and pain” (Howard, 2005).

  This perspective is immoral because the fetus is a living thing.  Marco is worried about the futures because he is skeptical whether they will be able to raise and care the child with the problems involved. Jessica does not support abortion even though the doctor thinks it is the best decision for both the parents and the unborn child. The physician was not ethical. Jessica should be presented will all the available options and consequence before making decisions without involving her. Even if care should be patient-centred, the beneficiary or participant should be consulted.

Recommendation for Action

If I were to recommend the course of action based on Christian views, I would urge Jessica and Marco to keep the child. Even if the doctor and Marco are apprehensive about the quality of life the child will subjected to, it is noble to believe in God that he will do a miracle. Also, every woman feels proud after giving birth. If an abortion is performed, the mother’s needs will be sullied (Markowitz, 2017). The physician should have involved both couple and discourse on all the available options. Jessica should not be bullied into an ethical decision without being consulted.


I approve of the personhood theory. To be considered are human, one should exhibit one or more from the following consciousness, self-motivation, reasoning, good communication skills, or reckon consequences of your actions. Even though fetuses exhibit some of the above characteristics, the mothers’ liberty surpasses that of the unborn child. The woman is sitting highest in the realm of the criteria. The mothers should decide to abort the fetus if there is a substantial reason to do so. A pregnant woman should always have the right to control her body. I believe that Jessica has the right to keep the child if that is her wish. Abortion should only be considered when there is no option, or it is a life-threatening issue. Looking into the case study, I believe that personhood theory will influence everyone’s decisions.  I think that the doctor and Marco would refrain from their previous decision and consider mothers views. The theory would remove doubts in Jessica and the aunt. They would be optimistic that will the child will grow without complications. In a nutshell; I believe the issue concerns the mother and the unborn child the most because they will be directly affected by the decision. The mother should be left to make a decision that will not bring guilt.


Howard, J. (2005). The moral status of the human embryo according to Peter Singer: individuality, humanity, and personhood. The Linacre Quarterly72(3), 212-228.

Batavia, C., & Nelson, M. P. (2017). For goodness sake! What is intrinsic value and why should we care?. Biological Conservation209, 366-376.

Markowitz, S. (2017). Personhood, pregnancy, and gender: a reply to Hershenov and Hershenov. Theoretical medicine and bioethics38(5), 411-415.