Ethical Foundations of Health Care: Responsibilities in Decision Making

By Jane Singleton; Susan McLaren | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
10
Ethical issues at the beginning of
life

'Life; a candle flame flickering in an open doorway.'

Buddhist Edict on Impermanence

In Chapter 9, we considered various accounts that have been offered about the beginning of life and the status of the embryo and fetus. We will now examine the implications of these different views for the cluster of ethical issues that arise at the beginning of life. Each view has implications for, for example, abortion, surrogacy, in vitro fertilisation, embryo research, embryo donation and use of fetal tissue. These are just examples of the issues that arise. However, a full understanding of the different views about the status of the embryo and fetus will enable the implications of these views to be worked out and applied to new problem areas. These will undoubtedly arise in the future with new advances in medical research. Although there might be ultimate disagreement in the views that are taken (see 3.2), it is important to operate with a view that can be held consistently over all these issues.

During the course of this discussion, we shall see that many of these questions are not solved by just considering the status of the fetus or embryo. In addition, other principles discussed in the first part of the book are also relevant.

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