Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life



This chapter explores the ethical and legal issues faced when caring for pregnant women. A case study involving four women who have used or are contemplating using reproductive technologies forms the basis of the chapter to illustrate and discuss the issues raised. The issue at the heart of the debate is the question of when life begins and what sort of status we should afford to the entity that develops from a fertilised ovum through various stages to be a fully formed baby. Beginning with an exploration of this concept of when life begins and begins to matter, assisted conception, surrogacy and prenatal diagnosis are discussed. This is followed by a consideration of the notion of choosing children including the creation of saviour siblings. The final section of the chapter considers the complex ethical issue of abortion particularly on the grounds of fetal abnormality. Differing views on the moral status of the embryo are explored along with common reasons for justifying abortion. The chapter concludes with a glimpse into the future, with an examination of new and emerging technologies.


Assisted conception Abortion Prenatal diagnosis Saviour siblings 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HealthcareUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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