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Moral Status on Fetus

This module explores the ethical issues of abortion. In this assignment, you will apply concepts from the module about the moral status of the fetus in a discussion activity.

Read the chapter on abortion in the text, then consider the following case on page 150. The sex of a child can now be determined before birth. In the waiting room of a local women’s clinic, June has started a conversation with another woman, Ann. She finds out that each is there for an amniocentesis to determine the sex of her fetus. June reveals that she wants to know the sex because her husband and his family really want a boy. Because they plan to have only one child, they plan to end this pregnancy if it is a girl and try again. Another pregnant woman, Ann, also wants to know the sex of her fetus. Ann’s reason is different from June’s. She is a genetic carrier of a particular kind of muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a sex-linked disease that is inherited through the mother. Only males develop the disease, and each male child has a 50 percent chance of having it. The disease causes muscle weakness and often some mental retardation. It causes death through respiratory failure, usually in early adulthood. Ann does not want to risk having such a child, and this abnormality cannot yet be determined through prenatal testing. Thus, if the prenatal diagnosis reveals that her fetus is male, she plans to end this pregnancy.

After considering the reasoning of these two women, consider and respond to the following questions:
What do you think of the use of prenatal diagnosis and abortion for purposes of sex selection in these cases?
What is the moral status of the fetus in June’s case? What is the moral status of the fetus in Ann’s case?
Apply consequentialist/utilitarian reasoning to evaluate each woman’s decision.
How might nonconsequentialist/Kantian reasoning differ in evaluating each woman’s decision?


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