Christian Beliefs and Moral Status of an Ill Fetus

Subject: Medical Ethics
Pages: 4
Words: 1002
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor


The case study highlights how Christian beliefs and medical ethics determine the moral status of a fetus. In the case study, preliminary diagnosis outcomes show the fetus has a rare development condition because it has no arms, and prognosis indicates the probable occurrence of Down syndrome. In this view, the determination of moral status is necessary to establish the best course of action to resolve the issue of fetal abnormality. In the analysis of the case study, the purpose of this essay is to describe a compatible theory of Christian view and determinants of the moral status of the fetus with the objective of recommending appropriate actions and giving a personal response regarding the appropriate theory.

Christian View and Compatible Theory

From the perspective of Christianity, the nature of humans revolves around life, which is a sacred gift from the divine creator. When God created the universe, he bestowed life to humans and provided them with the capacity to procreate and treat their children in a scared way. In the case study, Christian view of the nature of humans is apparent because Aunt Maria considers the abnormality of the fetus as the will of God and advises Jessica to carry out her responsibility as the mother by protecting and giving birth to her baby. Moreover, Jessica is also under Christian conviction that life is sacred, and she has the responsibility of carrying the pregnancy to term and taking care of the baby as a blessing from God, irrespective of disability, as well as parental socioeconomic barriers. Therefore, the Christian view regards the fetus as having equal moral status to adults.

The human properties theory is compatible with the Christian view of the moral status of the fetus. According to this theory, a fetus has full moral status because it possesses biological materials such as genes, which are unique to humans (Greasley, 2017). As a product of conception by Jessica and Marco, the abnormal fetus has a full moral status. In essence, the fetus has genes obtained from both the mother and the father in line with the biological processes involved in conception. Furthermore, the fetus has divine attributes because Christians hold that life originates from the creator. As Christian parents, Jessica and Maria believe that life is sacred, and thus, they have a divine responsibility of protecting the fetus.

The Christian view relates to the intrinsic value and dignity accorded to humans owing to their existence in the universe. Greasley (2017) asserts that humans have full moral status because of their intrinsic value and dignity, which differentiates them from animals. Unlike other perceptions, the Christian view does not regard cognitive capacity, physical ability, social standing, and admiration as factors for conferring the moral status to the fetus. In the case study, Jessica and Maria overlook the abnormality of the fetus and accord it the moral status based on its intrinsic properties.

Determination of the Moral Status

The analysis of the case study shows that Jessica, Marco, and Maria employed human properties theory in the assessment of the moral status of the fetus. In affording the moral status to the fetus, Jessica, Marco, and Maria perceive that they are dealing with a divine creature with human properties owing to the conception and sacredness of life. In their assessment of the moral status of the fetus, Dr. Wilson, Jessica, and Marco used the cognitive capacity theory. Although the fetus exhibits physical disability due to lack of arms, Dr. Wilson predicts that there is a significant likelihood (25%) that intellectual disability would occur due to Down syndrome, making Jessica and Marco expect their baby to suffer from cognitive impairments.

Dr. Wilson, Jessica, Marco, and Maria apply the relationship theory in the evaluation of the moral status of the abnormal fetus. The fetus exists in a social setting where its life is dependent on the actions of the mother, father, doctor, aunt, and priest. Dr. Wilson plays a central role in the dissemination of appropriate medical outcomes and advising the family on the best course of action. Jessica and Marco have the parental duty of caring and protecting their fetus, while Maria and the priest have a great responsibility of counseling, guiding, and praying for the family to make appropriate decisions that respect the sanctity of life.

Recommendation for Action

The human properties theory supports prof-life decisions that accord a full moral status to the fetus. Jessica, Marco, and Maria are pro-life because they believe that the process of conception bestows human attributes and divine powers of life to the fetus. In contrast, based on the cognitive capacity theory, Dr. Wilson, Jessica, and Marco recommend abortion. Dr. Wilson predicts that the child would develop Down syndrome, which causes cognitive disabilities, increases dependence, and reduces the quality of life. By following the advice from the doctor, Jessica and Marco support abortion because they do not want to bring up their child in the misery of disability and poor socioeconomic conditions.

Marco, Jessica, and Dr. Wilson recommend abortion based on the cognitive properties theory. According to this theory, the fetus does not qualify to be a human because it lacks cognitive abilities, such as rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and purposeful action. Since the fetus has cognitive disabilities, Jessica and Marco fear that the life of their child would be entirely dependent on them. Dr. Wilson asserts that the fetus has no moral status, for he predicts that the baby would have a disability and endure miserable life.

Personal Response

In a comparative analysis of the three theories, I agree with the view of the cognitive capacity theory. This theory is appropriate because it considers the ability of the fetus to lead a quality life without great suffering and extreme dependence on others. Since this theory does not confer the moral status to the fetus, it recommends abortion as a reasonable medical intervention. Therefore, I agree that the human properties theory and the action of abortion are appropriate in enabling the family to address the issue of fetal abnormality.


Greasley, K. (2017). Arguments about abortion: Personhood, morality, and law. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.