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[ANSWERED] Case Study: Fetal Abnormality

Based on Case Study: Fetal Abnormality and the required topic study materials, write a 750-1,000-word reflection that answers the following questions:

  1. What is the Christian view of the nature of human persons, and which theory of moral status is it compatible with? How is this related to the intrinsic human value and dignity?
  2. Which theory or theories are being used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson to determine the moral status of the fetus? What from the case study specifically leads you to believe that they hold the theory you selected?
  3. How does the theory determine or influence each of their recommendations for action?
  4. What theory do you agree with? Why? How would that theory determine or influence the recommendation for action?

Remember to support your responses with the topic study materials.

While APA style is not required for the body of this assignment, solid academic writing is expected, and documentation of sources should be presented using APA formatting guidelines, which can be found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

Case Study: Fetal Abnormality

Jessica is a 30-year-old immigrant from Mexico City. She and her husband Marco have been in the United States for the last three years and have finally earned enough money to move out of their Aunt Maria’s home and into an apartment of their own. They are both hard workers. Jessica works 50 hours a week at a local restaurant and Marco has been contracting side jobs in construction. Six months before their move to an apartment, Jessica finds out she is pregnant.

Four months later, Jessica and Marco arrive at the county hospital, a large, public, nonteaching hospital. A preliminary ultrasound indicates a possible abnormality with the fetus. Further scans are conducted, and it is determined that the fetus has a rare condition in which it has not developed any arms and will not likely develop them. There is also a 25% chance that the fetus may have Down syndrome.

Dr. Wilson, the primary attending physician, is seeing Jessica for the first time, since she and Marco did not receive earlier prenatal care over concerns about finances. Marco insists that Dr. Wilson refrain from telling Jessica the scan results, assuring him that he will tell his wife himself when she is emotionally ready for the news. While Marco and Dr. Wilson are talking in another room, Aunt Maria walks into the room with a distressed look on her face. She can tell that something is wrong and inquires of Dr. Wilson. After hearing of the diagnosis, she walks out of the room wailing loudly and praying aloud.

Marco and Dr. Wilson continue their discussion, and Dr. Wilson insists that he has an obligation to Jessica as his patient and that she has a right to know the diagnosis of the fetus. He furthermore is intent on discussing all relevant factors and options regarding the next step, including abortion. Marco insists on taking some time to think of how to break the news to Jessica, but Dr. Wilson, frustrated with the direction of the conversation, informs the husband that such a choice is not his to make. Dr. Wilson proceeds back across the hall, where he walks in on Aunt Maria awkwardly praying with Jessica and phoning the priest. At that point, Dr. Wilson gently but briefly informs Jessica of the diagnosis and lays out the option for abortion as a responsible medical alternative, given the quality of life such a child would have. Jessica looks at him and struggles to hold back her tears.

Jessica is torn between her hopes of a better socioeconomic position and increased independence, along with her conviction that all life is sacred. Marco will support Jessica in whatever decision she makes but is finding it difficult not to view the pregnancy and the prospects of a disabled child as a burden and a barrier to their economic security and plans. Dr. Wilson lays out all of the options but clearly makes his view known that abortion is “scientifically” and medically a wise choice in this situation. Aunt Maria pleads with Jessica to follow through with the pregnancy and allow what “God intends” to take place and urges Jessica to think of her responsibility as a mother.

Expert Answer

Fetal Abnormality Case Study

Conservative ways of thinking in all sectors including health is one of the reasons why many people experience health challenges (Greiner & Conklin, 2015). For example, if a sick woman in the hospital refuses to take a certain medication prescribed to them in the hospital because their church pastor told them not to do so, it is treated as a conservative action, which could lead to endangering her life or even loss of the life (Cherry, 2016). For this reason, health professionals recommend argument using evidence-based theories, where the action they take is always justified by the proven theory. Transcendence theory of human personality and Murray’s theory of psychogenic needs is one of the theories that can be used in making such arguments. Cases of fetal abnormality should also be taken with caution, ensuring that the spiritual consideration and the medical considerations are factored in with the right thresholds.

Murray’s Theory of Psychogenic Needs

In the case of Jessica, an immigrant from Mexico who realizes that the baby she has been carrying for six months has no hands, has a high risk of having down’s syndrome, and has other abnormalities, the most applicable theory for use in decision making is Murray’s Psychogenic theory. In the theory, Murray describes needs as the potentiality to respond in a specific way given the occurrence of certain circumstances (Cherry, 2016). When Jessica approaches the clinic with her husband Marco, they meet Dr. Wilson who decides to talk to Marco privately upon realizing the crude nature of the pregnancy. At first, Marco is unwilling to reveal the information to Jessica but when Jessica’s Aunt feels that there is something wrong, she goes out screaming and praying out aloud. Jessica’s Aunt is a staunch pro-lifer and she cannot in any circumstance recommend the abortion of the baby. Dr. Wilson, however, is a person who believed in situational ethics, and he presents the case to Jessica, and explains to her all the possible chances she could take, including abortion.

Christian View of the Nature of Human Persons based on the Case

One of the actions that Aunt Maria does when she receives the news is making a phone call to her priest, probably to make some consultations about the issue. It seems that she is so much convinced about the higher power that she is not even willing to attempt to reason with any other direction of morality. The Christian view of the nature of human persons is that life begins at conception, and should not be stopped under any situation whatsoever. By aborting the abnormal baby, Aunt Maria and Jessica feel that they would be killing a life that God has planned for them. For this reason, Aunt Maria advocates that she should keep the baby, and they would wait to see what God will unfold for them.

Agreement with the Theory

The collective decision of couples about the nature of life may differ, especially where they hold different religious ideologies or have different situational convictions (Hume & Chasen, 2015). Marco is willing to support Jessica in any action she takes but he feels that having a disabled baby while there is an option of getting rid of the pregnancy is a mistake. Being a staunch catholic, Aunt Maria is likely to be unmoved on the idea of changing her decision of keeping the pregnancy of a disabled baby. Much of the decision they make has to be influenced by Aunt Maria, since she has been housing them ever since they migrated from Mexico.

I believe the couple, the Aunt, and Dr. Wilson holds Murray’s theory of psychogenic needs because they all view the needs they have as their readiness to respond their current situation in a given way. Here, the secondary needs are the main question of concern. Murray’s theory holds that secondary needs are mostly psychosocial, and are important to explain or determine the eventual psychosocial well-being of an individual. One of the main reasons why I believe the couple holds this theory is the fact that in his analysis, Marcos realizes that the child will be a heavy economic backlog on the already growing family. Also, he is convinced that they will stop performing well even when they had not fully stabilized from their situation.

How the Theory Determines the Recommendations for Action

The theory determines each of their recommendations for action in that they have a guideline or a standard from which they can cross-check the correctness of their decisions (Cherry, 2016). Needs, in the theory, are described as the potentiality to respond in a given way when presented with a tough situation (Cherry, 2016). The current need is the presence of an unwanted baby, and hence this has to trigger several actions, which would either get rid of the baby, or keep it. Jessica’s Aunt, however, is conservative as she believes that spirituality has a greater role to play than morality, and that the couple should keep the baby regardless of the kind of life they will be forced to live. Personally, I strongly agree with Murray’s theory, where I would recommend the couple to take have an abortion and will increase their chances of having a better life with other healthier babies.


Cherry, K. (2016). Murray’s Theory of Psychogenic Needs. Hentet1, 14.

Greiner, A. L., & Conklin, J. (2015). Breaking bad news to a pregnant woman with a fetal abnormality on ultrasound. Obstetrical & gynecological survey70(1), 39-44.

Hume, H., & Chasen, S. T. (2015). Trends in timing of prenatal diagnosis and abortion for fetal chromosomal abnormalities. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology213(4), 545-e1.

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