This is a class discussion about Baby Theresa’s case. A baby girl born anencephalic and her parents’ decision to have her killed and her organs harvested to be used to save other sick babies. After reading the passage about her case below, and based on what you have learned in this course so far, post a brief comment (150-175 words) stating your opinion of the moral issues involved in the Baby Theresa’s case.
Try to address the following questions. How the position taken by Theresa’s parents and doctors can be (or can’t be) morally justified by the ethical theories studied so far? Which position (parents’ or lawyers’) would you side with and why?
This is a discussion assignment. Posting is mandatory for all students. Postings must be typed for all to see. Do not post your comments and responses as an attached file. It will not be graded. I expect to see some interaction (discussion) among the students. This should be an informed discussion based on what you have learned in the course so far. I want to see your postings and comments justified by the concepts learned in different parts of our textbook. I dont want to see posting with baseless opinion or full of jargon (for instance, I agree/disagree with you! Lets agree to disagree!, etc.) If you agree/disagree with a fellow students position, indicate why and give the reasons for your agreement/disagreement. Each student must post their own comment and respond to, at least two, of their classmates’ comments.
Respond to postings that motivate you to do so. Each one of the responses must have 100 or more words. This assignment is worth 100.0 points and you are going to be graded based on your thoughtful participation in the discussion: if you don’t satisfy the minimum participation requirement (1 posting and 2 responses) you will not receive the points for this activity. See grading rubric in the syllabus. Please be thoughtful and considerate in your postings.
Baby Theresa’s Case
Theresa Ann Campo Pearson, an anencephalic infant known to the public as “Baby Theresa,” was born in Florida in 1992. Anencephaly is among the worst congenital disorders. Anencephalic infants are sometimes referred to as “babies without brains,” and this gives roughly the right picture, but it is not quite accurate. Important parts of the brain the cerebrum and cerebellum are missing, as is the top of the skull. There is, however, a brain stem, and so autonomic functions such as breathing and heartbeat are possible. In the United States, most cases of anencephaly are detected during pregnancy and aborted. Of those not aborted, half are stillborn. About 350 each year are born alive, and they usually die within a few days.
Baby Theresa’s story would not be remarkable except for an unusual request made by her parents. Knowing that their baby could not live long and that, even if she did survive, she would never be conscious, Baby Theresa’s parents volunteered her organs for transplant. They thought her kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, and eyes should go to other children who could benefit from them. The physicians agreed that this was a good idea. Thousands of infants need transplants each year, and there are never enough organs available. But the organs were not taken; because Florida law does not allow the removal of organs until the donor is dead. By the time Baby Theresa died, nine days later, it was too late for the other children her organs could not be harvested because they had deteriorated too much.
The newspaper stories about Baby Theresa prompted much public discussion. Would it have been right to remove the infant’s organs, thereby causing her immediate death, to help other children? A number of professional “Ethicists” people employed by universities, hospital, and law schools, whose job it is to think about such things were called on by the press to comment. Surprisingly few of them agreed with the parents and physicians. (Rachels, James: The Elements of Moral Philosophy. 5th edition by Stuart Rachels. McGraw-Hill, Boston, 2007, pages 1-2.)
Respond to paragraph below at lease 100 words each
My viewpoint is going to be brief for this discussion. There was a point where I agree with the parents decision to deliver their baby organs to children that need them the most. Since the child will be born with anencephalic meaning she will not have a cerebrum and a cerebellum. The laws stating that the person must be dead before they can deliver organs was unethical. The child was going to die anyway so the law was pointless. The child organs could’ve been used to save people. The parents decision was morally justified because the kid was going to die anyways. I couldn’t agree with the lawyers because the kid is dead and the organs are useless now. This was a waste of time and could’ve ended well if the laws were arrange in a way to benefit everybody involve in the situation. Some people can say its wrong to kill a child immediately but the kid was going to die anyway. Now you have a moral dilemma that’s easy to figure out.
Theresa Ann Campo Pearson was an infant born with Anencephaly, a condition in which the baby is born without a cerebellum and cerebrum. Babies with this condition are usually stillborn, or pass away within the next few days following the birth. With these statistics in mind, Theresa’s parents requested her organs to be donated and used for other babies in need of a transplant. However, her organs must be harvested immediately before they start to diminish and become useless. This would mean that the Baby would have to be killed. Not only is this illegal in the state of Florida but it introduces many moral issues. From a religious standpoint, Murder is considered a sin and no man has the right to take a human life. On the other hand, the organs could be used to potentially save the life of another baby which I believe to be more important . Losing a child is a tragedy but at least Baby Theresa parents would know that the death of their child could mean the survival of other children.
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