A new threat to pregnant women's autonomy.
ABSTRACT Courts and legislatures are increasingly being called upon to restrict the autonomy of pregnant women by requiring them to behave in ways that others determine are best for the fetuses they carry. The state should not attempt to transform pregnant women into ideal baby-making machines. Pregnant women make decisions about their behavior in the context of the rest of their lives, with all the attendant complexities and pressures. Our interest in helping future children by improving prenatal care would best be furthered by helping pregnant women to make informed, less constrained choices, not by punishing women or depriving them of choices altogether.
SourceAvailable from: Lorraine Greaves
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ABSTRACT: Increased understanding of how the well-being of the fetus is affected by prenatal behavior has focused attention on the ethical issues surrounding fetuses. In this article the sources of societal disapproval of drug-abusing, pregnant women are explored, and the relationship between our moral judgments and public policies is discussed. In examining the nature of a pregnant woman's obligation to avoid harming a fetus she intends to bring to birth, ethical obligations are considered within the context of the complex moral web of parents' and society's responsibility for children's health and welfare. Fundamentally, a pregnant woman's moral obli- gation to her not-yet-born child is no more and no less than a parent's obligation to a born child. Finally, ethical considerations can provide guidelines in formulating public policies directed towards drug-abusing, pregnant women that are effective, proportionate, and efficient.The Future of Children 1(1). DOI:10.2307/1602620 · 1.98 Impact Factor