Ethical Analysis of Baby Theresa Essay example

1108 Words Apr 9th, 2012 5 Pages
Ethical Analysis of Baby Theresa

Baby Theresa is a very unique case. Theresa Ann Campo Pearson was an infant born in Florida 1992, with Anencephaly, which is where the two most important parts of the brain are missing, the cerebrum and cerebellum, as well as the top of the skull. Without these parts of the brain she would never have had higher brain functions or consciousness. However, there is still a brain stem connected so all the autonomic functions are still working, such as having a heart beat and breathing. Anencephaly is known as one of the worst congenital disorders, thus these cases are usually detected during pregnancy and aborted. If not aborted, half are stillborn or if born alive, they usually die within a few days. In
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Thus, from a Kantian standpoint, it is wrong to kill Theresa and take her organs to save others because then they would be using her merely as a means to other infants’ ends. However, to play devils advocate, “using a person” typically means you are violating their autonomy- their right to live and decide for themselves according to their own desires and values. With that being said, Baby Theresa was not autonomous because she had no consciousness, she had no ability to ever decide what was in her best interest and desire. So, technically, the Judge of the circuit court was not respecting the parents’ dignity of wanting to donate Theresa's organs. For that reason, D.W Ross’s theory should have been taken into consideration. Indeed, I understand why the judge decided to make the ruling she did because if she did allow the physicians to take Theresa’s life before natural death took its course, it would have possibly undermined all physicians as untrustworthy, which could have ruined the patient-physician relationship. However, even though her ruling was very understandable, an important and very valuable theory should not have been over looked with a case as exceptional as this one, the Prima Facie Duty. W.D Ross explains when to consider this theory on page 23 that, “ to provide a defensible account of “cases of conscience,” that

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