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Fetal Diagn Ther 2011;30:1–8

Ethical Issues on Pregnancy Termination: Impact of New Imaging Modalities

Gorincour 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
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Fetus
  • Neonate
  • Termination of life
  • Autonomy
  • Doing good
  • Doing no harm
  • Fairness
  • Transgression
  • Utilitarianism
  • Phenomenology
  • Empathy

 goto top of outline Abstract

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.

Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel

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 goto top of outline Author Contacts

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

 goto top of outline Article Information

Received: November 2, 2010
Accepted after revision: January 17, 2011
Published online: March 3, 2011
Number of Print Pages : 8
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 31

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy (Clinical Advances and Basic Research)

Vol. 30, No. 1, Year 2011 (Cover Date: August 2011)

Journal Editor: Gratacós E. (Barcelona)
ISSN: 1015-3837 (Print), eISSN: 1421-9964 (Online)

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