Presentation on theme: "Eugenic Abortion A legal and Ethical Issue Health Law and Bioethics Leonor Ferreira, nº1226."— Presentation transcript:
Eugenic Abortion A legal and Ethical Issue Health Law and Bioethics Leonor Ferreira, nº1226
“The role of the stronger is to dominate, not merging with the weakest and thereby sacrificing his own greatness. Only the weak from birth find this law cruel, because he his a weak and limited man. If this law does not prevail, the evolution of organized beings woulds be unthinkable.”
What is Eugenics? According to Fernando Regateiro’s definition, Eugenics is “the rational application of the laws of genetics to human reproduction, in order to improve in future generations, the hereditary qualities of an entire population, from the physical and (or) mental standpoint.” What is Eugenic Abortion? Abortion performed because of possible fetal defects (like the occurrence of a disability, or the unviability of the fetus). Eugenic abortion is a demonstration of negative eugenics – the techniques which “disfavor the spread of genes considered harmful”, according to Luis Archer.
Example: Down syndrome which is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Can be detected in a fetus doing an exam called amniocentesis.
Portuguese Penal Code Article 142º (unpunishable termination of pregnancy) It isn’t punishable the termination of pregnancy performed by a physician or under his direction, in a licensed health care establishment, with the consent of the pregnant woman, when: c) It is very probable that the child might suffer from an incurable and serious illness or congenital malformation, and is performed within the first twenty-four weeks of pregnancy, except for the situations of non-viable fetuses, in which case the termination may be practiced at any time.
Ethical perspectives. According to Deontological Ethics: action's adherence to rules or duties: a action is good from a moral point of view when is practiced following a certain principle, like the principle of human dignity (example, Kant.) According to Utilitarian Ethics: The moral worth of an action is determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing utility as summed among all sentient beings: an action is good from a moral point of view when is practiced to achieve “the greatest pleasure for the greatest number”. (John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham.)
The principle of human dignity, in portuguese, “princípio da dignidade da pessoa humana” protects people. But some philosophers, like Tooley, think that to be a person it isn’t enough to be human animal – a person is a being who sees him/herself as a separate entity over time. And a fetus, all newborns and some deeply disabled people can’t. Others say that the idea of “persona” (person, pessoa) is built considering the dimensions and the complexity of the human being, and it’s possible to be “more person”, and “less person” according to your own ability to seek yourself as a separate entity over time. And if a non human animal can do it, it would never be a person anyway, because to be a human is a sufficient condition to be a person, but also a necessary one.
First perspective: A person must be regarded as an end itself, with no exceptions or special conditions: moral action is simply linked to the principle of duty. 1)Whether we consider a fetus as a person or as a living being only, our actions must respect the value of life without regarding the particularities of a case: No life’s worths more than any other and exceptions aren’t aloud. 2)The concept of person is composed by many dimensions: one of them is the “person-essence” – a human being. The fetus is a being which encompasses all the potential to be a person, as the origin of all human beings: and we are unable to protect something when we don’t regard its origin.
Second Perspective: 1) A fetus has no conscience of itself. Wherefore, its life doesn’t correspond to its own interest – is an interest of the parents. 2) If the arrival of a disabled child doesn’t match to its parents interest – and also constitutes an obstacle to the possible conception of second child who may be healthy – the termination of this pregnancy can better serve the interests of the only ones interested in it: the parents. So, termination is done to achieve “the greatest pleasure of the greatest number”, and is good from a moral point of view.
Conclusion: In our opinion, the Portuguese legal solution on the matter seems to be as balanced as possible, in order to respect all interests, but also the origin of human life. However, the aim of this work is to reflect about our common beliefs and behaviors on this matter. Generally, people are more utilitarian, and the termination of a pregnancy when the fetus will origin a disabled child is considered as something society should support in the name of a greater good. But shouldn’t we, members of the society, try to integrate the imperfection as a part of it? Is eugenic abortion a demonstration of selfishness and not mercy? Isn’t eugenic abortion a dangerous practice to the point of fostering a desire to cleanse society of those members who are considered “weaker” than the others?