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Case Study On Moral Status On Fetal Abnormality

Case Study On Moral Status On Fetal Abnormality

The case study, “Fetal Abnormality,” presents ethical challenges that individuals face in dilemma situations concerning the sanctity of life-based on different worldviews or perspectives. In this case, four individuals make decisions and feelings about an unborn deformed fetus who has a 25% chance of being born with Down Syndrome. The fetus is yet to develop limbs, and medical scans show that the probability of growing them is less. The four people include Jessica, the expectant mother, her spouse, Marco, Maria, their religious aunt, and Dr. Wilson, the physician, with the fetus’s medical opinion. Marco is willing to support his wife based on any decision that she will make. Maria believes that Jessica has obligations as a mother before God and should carry the baby to its full term irrespective of the condition. Based on medical and scientific evidence, Dr. Wilson endorses the decision to terminate the fetus because of the possible abnormality that it carries. As such, these individuals have different ethical perspectives in determining the moral status of the unborn baby. The paper evaluates the ethical options by these people and shows the moral status of the fetus.

Christian View on Nature of Persons and Compatible Moral Status Model

Life is sacred and given free by God and begins at conception. According to the Christian perspective, human life is superior and above all creatures because human persons are created in God’s image. Human beings’ exceptional nature is due to their ability to reason and have a sense of awareness that other creations lack. Humans have a clear language and are born as freed agents in God’s image (Stahl & Kilner, 2017). Christian perspective advances that human beings have intrinsic value and dignity, which form the basis of their existence in this world. They should act rationally and protect their moral status as conferred to them by God. They can make decisions about other creations, but taking any life belongs to God, the giver of that very life.

Moral status is concerned with what individuals believe is valuable and what is not in one’s life, and how individuals conceive their decisions. Moral status determines the value linked to an individual, either born or not, but as long as they are alive. Imperatively, the most compatible theory with the Christian view on persons’ nature is the moral agency theory. The model agency perspective asserts that individuals have the ability, power, and freedom to select what they believe is acceptable and what is not. As such, relationships and interactions among human beings and other creations are based on the value based on life and protection and respect of human dignity. As free moral agents, human beings make decisions based on these aspects, and dignity depends on the degree of morality accepted by individuals and society (Stahl & Kilner, 2017). The implication is that righteousness comes based on free will, and humans should seek to protect all creatures, including fellow persons. The first obligation is this aspect is the protection of human life and its intrinsic value and dignity.

Determining the Fetus’s Moral Status

Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson use various moral theories to determine the fetus’s moral status. Jessica understands that the baby will encounter hardships and place increased socioeconomic challenges on their resources and family. The baby will require specialized care based on its condition. On the other hand, as a Christian, Jessica understands that life is sacred and does not want to interfere with its sanctity. The baby has moral status, and she uses ethical agency theory by acting as a moral agent with free will to make choices that impact her life (Case, 2019). Jessica has considered all the alternatives, and while in a dilemma, believes that she should protect the unborn baby. She knows that the final decision on the fetus’s moral status rests with her perspective, and any decision that she takes will prevail. According to the ethical agency theory, the moral situation arises based on an individual’s ability to make choices as a moral agent based on free judgment concerning what is perceived as right or wrong. However, the baby cannot make decisions and thus lacks moral status or agency.

Marco has concerns about the potential socioeconomic burden of having a child with the medical team’s conditions. He understands that bringing up a child with Down Syndrome will constitute an increased financial obligation but is emphatic that he will support Jessica regardless of her decision (Simkulet, 2020). Therefore, based on these interactions and relationships, Marco uses the relational theory as he believes that his wife’s decision will be okay to him. Maria reminds Jessica of her obligations and roles as a mother and Christian and the need to respect God’s will. As a Christian, Maria emphasizes Jessica’s essential to seek God’s intentions and base her final decision on biblical and religious teachings. Maria is against the fetus’s termination and thus uses the divine command theory and the relational theory to advance that having a relationship with both God and the unborn child, Jessica should not terminate the fetus. Maria cannot demonstrate the baby’s moral status but applies divine logic to confer moral status to the fetus.

Dr. Wilson gives the family all information about the fetus’s status and its possible deformations and implications once it is born. The

Case Study On Moral Status On Fetal Abnormality

Case Study On Moral Status On Fetal Abnormality

doctor believes that in his best opinion, the fetus should be terminated due to its deformity. His advice and opinion are based on medical information, knowledge, and experience. As such, the physician uses cognitive theory, which advances that an individual’s moral status begins when they have the rational ability and awareness (Andal, 2018). Based on medical facts, the doctor believes that the fetus has no rationality or attention. It would be difficult for it to attain these cognitive elements even after its birth. The implication is that the doctor believes that the fetus does not have moral status and does not sentience.

Impacts of Each Theory

The theories used by every person in the case study impacts their decision and opinions in the case. For instance, based on the cognitive model, Dr. Wilson is categorical that termination of the fetus is the best alternative because of the potential disabilities it shall have, which will impact the child’s quality of life. Jessica’s dilemma emanates from her utilization of the moral agency model and relational theory because she has a relationship with the fetus as its mother and God as a Christian and wife to Marco. She decides with knowledge about its potential impacts (Andal, 2018). The relationship between Jessica and Marco influences his decision about the fetus as he asserts that he shall support her irrespective of what action she takes. Maria’s opinion is influenced by Christian beliefs based on divine command theory. She encourages Jessica to consider the whole aspect of motherhood and her relationship with both the fetus and God, and the sanctity of life.

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Theory Most Effective

Every person in the case expresses their opinion and uses the relative model to base the merits of their decisions. I believe that the moral agency theory and relational model are critical in this case. The moral agency determines the moral status of the fetus based on the existing relationship. This model transcends egocentrism and challenges one to consider the impact of their choices on another person’s life. Life is sacred and begins at conception. Therefore, Jessica, Marco, and Maria must consider their obligation before God and each other based on these theoretical perspectives. As moral agents with free will, they must make better decisions to benefit their family and relationship with God.


Individuals presented with critical challenges demonstrate and use different ethical perspectives in making significant decisions. People must consider the long-term implications of their choices and their consequences irrespective of how dire the situation may present. The unborn child’s moral status remains and should be founded on one’s rational thinking and cultural beliefs.


Andal, A. G.  (2018). Revisiting International Law’s Discussion on the Moral Status of the Fetus.

In Proceedings of Topical Issues in International Political Geography (pp. 327-338). Springer, Cham.

Case, M. A. (2019). Abortion, the Disabilities of Pregnancy, and the Dignity of Risk.

The University of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper, (705).

Stahl, D. & Kilner, J. F. (2017). The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons with Profound

Intellectual Disabilities. The Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 6(1-2), 19-40. https://journal.joniandfriends.org/index.php/jcid/article/view/143

Simkulet, W. (2020). Abortion and Ectogenesis: Moral Compromise. Journal of Medical Ethics,

46(2), 93-98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2019-105676

Topic 2 DQ 1

What is the Christian concept of the imago Dei? How might it be important to health care, and why is it relevant?



For further explanation of this week’s chapter, here is a lecture to explain some of the concepts. If you have any questions about the chapter or material from the lecture, please feel free to post them here.


What is the Christian concept of the imago Dei? How might it be important to health care, and why is it relevant?

Imago Dei means image of God. According to White (2020) this is the value and dignity of every human being due to their existence. Becoming a nurse is a calling and not everyone can do it, it takes a special kind of person to become a nurse. This career focuses on helping other people and ensuring proper care is given in the time of need. A person is at a very vulnerable state when they are in the presence a medial staff, whether they are ill, injured, or at just having a check up. As a nurse it is our job to help maintain the dignity of every patient we encounter, from the healthy patients to the dying patients. If a person is in hospice, the nurse helps to keep the dignity of the dying, all the way past their last breath. The nurse can also pray with the family, if they wish, in their time of need and help seek some comfort with the knowing their loved one will be in heaven with the Lord when the time comes for them to pass.

White, N. (2020). God, humanity, and human dignity. In GCU’s Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision making in healthcare.



lt is true that becoming a nurse is a calling and not everyone can do it. Also, it takes a special kind of person to become a nurse since it focuses on helping other people and ensuring proper care is given in the time of need. I would like to add that human life is a gift therefore each life is meaningful and significant and they deserve respect, kindness and dignity. This should be standard of care regardless of person’s medical decisions.


Hello Alycia,

Good post. The term imago Dei refers most fundamentally to two things: first, God’s own self-actualization through humankind; and second, God’s care for humankind. To say that humans are in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans. In other words, for humans to have the conscious recognition of their being in the image of God means that they are the creature through whom God’s plans and purposes can be made known and actualized; humans, in this way, can be seen as co-creators with God. The moral implications of the doctrine of imago Dei are apparent in the fact that if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans, as each is an expression of God (Eberl, 2022).


Eberl, J. T. (2022). Enhancing the Imago Dei: Can a Christian Be a Transhumanist?. Christian bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality28(1), 76-93.


Imago Dei translates to the image of God and originates from the Book of Genesis. Many Christians believe the Imago Dei is “why we humans are valuable in the first place and why we are more valuable than any other species” (Hoff, C. 2004).

When looking at racism, Imago Dei would be important in healthcare. Unfortunately, in America racism continues to persistent. In healthcare this is no different. According to the 2015 National Healthcare Disparities Report stated that White patients receive better quality of care than 36.7% of Hispanic patients, 41.1% of Black patients, 32.4% of American Indian/Alaska Native patients, and 20.3% of Asian and Pacific Islander patients. “These differences highlight the need for a deeper understanding among people of all races. Our realities are different, yet all are created imago Dei (in the image of God). As believers, we know the love of Jesus Christ to be transformative. It should never leave us the same.” (Secor, 2020). Every patient and every person should be treated with dignity and respect.

Hoff, C. (2004) Imago Dei: The image of God. APU. http://www.apu.edu/articles/15625

Secor, C. (2020). Imago Dei-In the Image of God. Journal of Christian Nursing. https://journals.lww.com/journalofchristiannursing/Fulltext/2020/10000/Imago_Dei_In_the_Image_of_God.1.aspx

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2020). Discrimination. Healthy People.gov. https://www.healthypeople.gov/020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinatns-health/interventions-resources/discrimation


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