'The important thing ... is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.' 1
Most people would claim that they can recognise an ethical issue. They realise that ethical questions, such as 'ought one always to tell the truth' or 'are abortions ever morally justifiable', are different from factual questions such as 'how much is your tax bill' or 'which is the quickest way from London to Edinburgh'. However, it will become apparent that we need to look more closely at these ethical questions in order that we can think more clearly about the issues involved and the ethical decisions that have to be taken in health care practice. What is an ethical issue? What distinguishes ethical questions from other sorts of questions? Here are three examples within which we can identify some ethical issues.
A 39-year-old female undergoes an amniocentesis. The results indicate that the fetus is not suffering from certain genetic abnormalities. The mother requests to know the sex of the fetus. This information is refused on the grounds that an abortion might be requested if the fetus is not of the 'right' sex.