Christianity teaches that people were created in the image of the loving God. The human is God’s not only beautiful but also the most prized and precious creation, which gives every single person inherent dignity and worth. For example, in the Old Testament, David praises God on his eternal grace: “[…] I am fearful and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (14 Psalm 139, New International Version).”
The most convincing proof that God loves humanity is the fact that he sent Jesus Christ, his one and only son, to save people from sin, evil, and death (Grenz, 2016). This view on humankind is consistent with Kant’s secular ethics that validate each human’s right to respect. Even though Kant did not include God in his explanations of human nature, akin to Christians, he appraised the sentience, willpower, and autonomy of thought that are only characteristic of humans (Kant, 2019). Both views thus condemn abuse and exploitation of humans because this treatment is unacceptable toward conscious and independent beings.
In the case offered for analysis, each of the individuals involved adheres to different systems of moral values. Marco, the husband, is likely to be utilitarian in his beliefs: he cares the most about the net well-being of the family (Runciman, Merry & Walton, 2017). He compartmentalizes the unborn child as a burden and logically concludes that without him, the family will be much happier and more stable. In the case description, it is stated explicitly that he sees the child’s unambiguous future disability as “a barrier to their economic security and plans.” However, Marco is also not indifferent to his wife’s opinion, which prevents him from insisting on any particular decision.
Aunt Maria appears to be a devout Christian who follows God’s word in everything she does and recommends to others. She is convinced that no person should be discarded as useless or burdensome on the grounds of their illness or disability. Maria believes in letting what “God intends” to happen because Christianity teaches that God has a plan for every person, no matter how impaired or impeded in their development they might be (Grenz, 2016). This explains her recommendation to Jessica, the wife: Aunt wants her to keep the baby and think about the holy duty of a mother.
It is difficult to say whether the doctor in the story has any religious affiliations. What is clear is that in his practice, he strongly adheres to the key healthcare ethical principles: autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice (Runciman, Merry & Walton, 2017). First and foremost, the doctor wants Jessica to be fully aware of her situation so that any decision that she will make would be well-informed.
This is exactly why he is frustrated when the husband shows his intention to withhold information from the wife and tell her later. The doctor believes that the woman deserves justice, which, in her situation, is knowing the right diagnosis and learning it from a professional. In some way, it is safe to say that the doctor is a utilitarian, just like Marco. Under the guise of respecting the scientific side of things, he shows that abortion would be a more responsible outcome because it would eliminate adverse economic consequences for the family.
Lastly, Jessica seems to be both a Christian and a moral relativist. Moral relativism is an approach that states that any judgment can be wrong or right based on the standpoint (Runciman, Merry & Walton, 2017). In the case in question, on the one hand, the woman is reluctant to have an abortion because she has a deep respect for the sacredness of life. On the other hand, Jessica is realistic: she appreciates her and her husband’s newly acquired financial independence and wants a better life for them both. Therefore, she is approaching the issue from different angles, trying to gain deeper insights and weigh all the pros and cons.
In my opinion, healthcare professionals should always adhere to the four key ethical principles mentioned above: autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Every person deserves to know exactly what is happening to him or her; informing patients ensures justice and promotes self-sufficiency. The doctor has the right to tell what would be best for a patient (beneficence) and take action to mitigate risks and avert adverse outcomes (nonmaleficence).
For the most part, I think that the doctor is acting right with an exception for his insistence on abortion. By doing this, he is violating doctor-patient boundaries and putting unnecessary pressure on Jessica and her family. The ethical theory of healthcare does overlap with Christianity in some aspects, especially in its respect for human sentience and independence. However, Christian ethics may not be appropriate for application if a doctor is dealing with a secular family or a family with different beliefs such as Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist.
Grenz, S. J. (2016). The moral quest: Foundations of Christian ethics. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Kant, I. (2019). The metaphysical elements of ethics. Glasgow, UK: Good Press.
Runciman, B., Merry, A., & Walton, M. (2017). Safety and ethics in healthcare: A guide to getting it right. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.