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Ethical Issues on Pregnancy Termination: Impact of New Imaging ModalitiesGorincour G.a, b · Tassy S.a · Siméoni U.c · Le Coz P.a
aMediterranean Ethical Forum, EA 3783, Université de la Méditerranée, bMultidisciplinary Center for Prenatal Diagnosis, La Timone Hospital, and cDivision of Neonatology, La Conception Hospital, Marseille, France Corresponding Author
Dr. Guillaume Gorincour
Mediterranean Ethical Forum, EA 3783
Université de la Méditerranée, La Timone Hospital
264, rue Saint-Pierre, FR–13385 Marseille (France)
Tel. +33 4 9138 6797, E-Mail Guillaume.GORINCOUR@ap-hm.fr
Objective: To explicate the ontological statuses of both the fetus and neonate as a basis for clinical ethical judgments about the obligations of both physicians and pregnant women to protect the life and health of both the fetus and the neonate. Methods: Despite drastic changes in perinatology, there is still a legal separation between fetuses and neonates. Neonatal status remains specific because of the prohibition of ‘transgressing human life’. Nevertheless, the concept of a ‘prenatal human being’ recently emerged. While new technologies blur the fetus/neonate borderline, why is it still legal in many European countries to terminate a fetal life in the late stages of pregnancy? One might even support the idea that what is authorized before birth should also be after, thereby ‘fetalizing’ neonates. Results: The ‘personalistic’ approach is against this ‘fetalization’, considering that terminating a neonate life is ‘transgressive’. The ‘utilitarian’ model considers we cannot decide what is good for someone else, which justifies terminating the life of neonates who are not persons yet. A phenomenological view supports the ontological difference on our perceptions, differing whether we observe ultrasound fetal images or real neonatal pictures. Conclusion: This does not mean the weight of fetal images should be underestimated.
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