The Christian view of the nature of human persons, which theory of moral status is it compatible with, and how is this related to the intrinsic human value and dignity
The case presents a dilemma based on the topic of abortion, where Jessica, as a moral agent, needs to decide whether or not to abort the baby with undeveloped limbs and a possibility of having Down Syndrome. The Christian view of the nature of human persons is manifested in the fact that all people are created in God’s image, which entitles them to have human value and human dignity (Mitchell, 2014). The most compatible theory of moral status is relationality or relationship-based concept, where people with disabilities and intellectual disabilities are equal (Stahl & Kilner, 2017). The notion does not require the presence of a mother because the relationship with God is sufficient to prohibit abortion.
Which theory or theories are being used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson to determine the moral status of the fetus?
The case presents a wide range of perspectives on the issue of abortion. It is important to note that Jessica acts as a moral agency, and thus the theory of moral agency is being utilized. Marco is both against and for the abortion, but his decision will primarily depend on his wife’s choice, which makes him a proponent of the theory based on the relationship. A similar concept can be observed in the case of Maria because her arguments stem from the fact that the fetus has a relationship with both God and the mother. Lastly, Dr. Wilson adheres to the theory of cognitive properties by stating that the fetus has no moral status due to the possibility of Down Syndrome and other inborn disabilities.
The main reason for such statements is the notion of both Maria and Marco base their arguments on the relationship of one human to another. Jessica, on the other hand, is undecided but acts as a moral agent who will ultimately determine the fate of the fetus. Dr. Wilson is evidently arguing for abortion because there is a belief that a fetus cannot have a moral status without cognitive capabilities. However, there is another issue of the fact that pre-natal screenings are non-diagnostic, which means that they do not determine a clear diagnosis, but rather state the risks in terms of probabilities (Best, 2018). In other words, the child can be born without any disabilities.
How does the theory determine or influence each of their recommendations for action?
The theory of cognitive properties is proposed by Dr. Wilson, and it adheres to the notion that a human moral status cannot be realized without a sufficient degree of intellectual or cognitive capabilities. Therefore, the given individual assumes that the probability of a child having Down Syndrome is high enough to justify abortion because the fetus is not capable of cognition. Although one might state that the chance for intellectual disability of relatively low, the absence of limbs is among the main drivers of Dr. Wilson’s decision. His claim considers the status of a fetus at the present moment, but he fails to understand that the fetus has a potentiality, according to which, unless an entity is a brain dead body, all forms of cognitive capability levels continue to be subjects of rights to live (Lee, 2015). In other words, the fetus has a 25% chance of Down Syndrome, and thus, there is a high chance that it will not have intellectual disabilities, which means that it has the potential to obtain a moral status according to Dr. Wilson’s theory.
However, Maria’s arguments are based on the theory based on relationship, where an unborn child has moral status because it is related to God and the mother. The presence of a mere relationship grants a person at any developmental stage such status, which makes abortion wrong and unethical. In other words, Maria’s recommendation is rooted in the concept of relationship, where God’s link to its children prohibits the act of abortion. In the case of Marco, the theory is utilized in a more simplistic manner because the relationship is between him and Jessica. The latter person is a moral agent, which makes her an adherent to the theory of moral agency, and her decision will determine whether or not the fetus lives.
Personal opinion and the theory I agree with
I agree with the theory of relationship because it does not put artificial benchmarks for a human to have moral status. For example, the theory of cognitive properties sets an arbitrary requirement for an entity to have a certain level of cognitive abilities, which grants it a moral status. However, it fails to recognize that a fetus has the potential to develop a sufficient amount of cognition to be eligible for moral status.
The theory only considers the present moment, which is applied to a living person in a coma, who also lacks a sufficient degree of cognitive properties but can recover and regain its moral status. Similarly, a fetus should be viewed in a continuum of its life potential (Lee, 2015). Therefore, the theory based on the relationship is more rigid and absolute with a clear basis, which focuses on one’s relationship with its creator. It is also more ethical to argue that all human beings possess a moral status regardless of their cognitive capabilities because they are created in the image of God (Stahl & Kilner, 2017). God, as a source of all good, does not make mistakes, which means that both unborn children and people with intellectual disabilities are meant to live.
Best, M. (2018). The dilemma of prenatal screening. Ethics and Medicine, 34(2), 113.
Lee, P. (2015). Moral status and the margins of human life. The American Journal of Jurisprudence, 60(1), 105-120.
Mitchell, C. B. (2014). Human dignity: A first principle. Crossway. Web.
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), 19-40.