Introduction to the Activity
Recall, that an ethical dilemma can be defined as two morally acceptable choices, both of which will result in morally disturbing and unwelcome consequences. Often when we considering our position regarding an ethical dilemma, it is helpful to consider not only the issue presented, but whether we can justify our position based on an extreme, yet realistic set of conditions. Abortion is perhaps one of the most disturbing and confounding of issues for engaging in such an exercise, as it is sometimes difficult to justify the inconsistencies in our moral intuitions when confronted with situations that define an ethical dilemma.
Related Reading from Module 7:
- Module notes and assigned textbook pages
- Ankele, J. (Producer), & Macsoud, A. (Producer) (2010). Beyond the politics of life and choice: A new conversation about abortion (link available in Mod 7)
- Tsiaras, A. (Director) (2011, November 14). Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth -- visualized TedTalks. [Video file][9 min 37 sec]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch? (apprx. 10min)
- Iadarola , J. (Performer) (2012, November 25). Study: What happens to women denied abortions? [Video file][5 min 17 sec] The Young Turks. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch? (apprx. 5 min)
Instructions to Learners
Please read the case scenario:
Twenty year old Emily who suffers from Bi-polar disorder and Schizophrenia lives at home with her parents, but is fairly independent. Last year, Emily had a breakdown while living away at school and required hospitalization. Due to a complex mix of anti-psychotics, antidepressants and other medications to control her condition, Emily is now working part-time at a local bookstore and taking two classes at the community college. Emily loves children and hopes eventually to become a kindergarten teacher. Although Emily is on birth control pills, she had missed some days over the past few months during a brief ?lapse? in her mood, but insisted throughout that time that her boyfriend wear a condom. The condom failed at some point and Emily is now eight weeks' pregnant.
Emily?s doctors insist that the baby is at an exceptionally high risk for severe physical and mental impairments, including incomplete limb and/or brain development. At best, there is no solid data detailing teratogenicity risk for all of her medications, but the combinations and inability to incorporate less harmful substitutes raise significant concern. Because she is within the first trimester, there are no legal concerns based on the Roe v. Wade decision so the doctors, her parents and her boyfriend are insisting that Emily have an abortion to spare the burden on the child. Emily, a devote Catholic, insists on carrying the baby and raising it once it is born. She has also personalized the arguments, finding that by devaluing the life of her baby, her family and others devalue her as well.
Emily?s parents have threatened to file for guardianship over her so that they can force the abortion, under their belief that she lacks decision-making capacity and the abortion is in her best interests. Although the doctors have no standing to join the suit, they have agreed to serve as expert witnesses for the parents. Emily?s boyfriend is considering petitioning the court--after the baby is born--for the right to be released from any parental responsibilities, given his lack of a position in the decision to abort.
Emily?s Psychiatrist, Dr. Heady is very troubled by the case both for Emily and for the developing fetus. Knowing that you are a famous ethicist, he contacts you informally and presents the case as a hypothetical, maintaining Emily?s confidentiality. Dr. Heady is unsure whether the parents can legally force the abortion, but he is troubled on a much more fundamental level, which is why he is seeking your counsel.
Please respond to the following questions (approx. 500-700 words) using the template format provided for the assignment:
Presuming that Emily has decision-making capacity, Dr. Heady would like to hear your thoughts on the following:
- Ethically, should Emily be able to reject the abortion in the first trimester, knowing that it is highly probable that continuing to take her necessary medications will severely and permanently impair the baby?
- In reflecting upon the question, recall the court?s arguments in Roe v. Wade, and any counter arguments provided in your materials. Also, consider the question of the fetus (encompassing all stages from conception through prebirth development) and the concept of moral standing.
Use the following template for your assignment:
Use Microsoft Word to create a document.
Copy/paste the title of the question.
Describe the most relevant ethical dilemma(s) presented (no more than two).
Briefly describe the primary issue or issues that are relevant in the scenario with respect to the dilemma.
Identify the most relevant stakeholder(s) (no more than 3) and briefly describe the situation from their perspective.
Analyze the dilemma, using scholarly discussion, from the perspective of the primary stakeholder (typically the patient). Include a discussion of at least two ethical theories or bioethics principles studied in the course that relate to the dilemma and issues you identified. Include any relevant legal concerns or requirements outlined in the readings.
Present your assessment, resolution or potential solutions for resolving the issue. Remember that there are no right answers, per se, so reflective questions can be as appropriate as a firm conclusion.
Title page + APA formatted reference(s).
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