Ethics Of Maternal Care Essay

1167 words - 5 pages

Recent legal movements and rules are being placed within the practice of maternal mothers with focus on the protection of the fetus as a separate entity from the woman. These legalities are said to question the rights of the pregnant woman about her own medical care and decisions. The new protective actions for the fetus will enforce criminal charges on women who behave in a way that is associated with fetal harm or adverse perinatal outcomes. The ethical dilemmas with maternal decision making are being approached because it “constrains the pregnant woman’s decision making by punishing them which erode a woman’s basic rights to privacy and body integrity.” (ACOG, 2011) The technological advances of current imaging, testing, and treating of fetuses help to create the view of a fetus being considered as an independent patient. They can be treated apart from the woman with whom their existence depends on. Civil laws regarding treatment of the fetus are critiqued because of the failure to address the health needs of the pregnant woman. Since an intervention on a fetus must be performed through the body of the pregnant woman many ethical and legal complications of protecting the fetus arise.
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act was signed in April of 2004 that legally implemented a federal offense or crime could be placed on a woman if she was to cause the death of or cause bodily harm to a fetus at any stage throughout the pregnancy. The ethical dilemmas pertaining to the interconnectedness of the pregnant woman and the fetus are applicable concerning informed consent, patient choice in the Maternal-fetal relationship, and at-risk drinking and illicit drug use. In respect to patients’ autonomous decision making, obtaining informed consent for medical interventions helps to defend many points. “Requiring informed consent is an expression of respect for the patient as a person; it particularly respects a patient’s moral right to bodily integrity, to self-determination regarding sexuality and reproductive capacities, and to the support of the patient’s freedom within caring relationships. “ (ACOG, 2011) This means since the fetus lies within the body of the woman medical interventions on behalf of the fetus will go through the woman’s body and consent for treatment is required. There have been court ordered interventions for mothers who have refused treatment or do not seem to make decisions that are in the best interest of their fetuses. Court ordered protocols are used on a last resort basis and other measures are taken to encourage mother to accept treatments. If a pregnant woman or patient is unwilling to agree with physicians medical advice, reasons should be expressed to the woman describing the need for such measures and encourage health promotion behaviors. If the woman’s decisions are not reflective of a positive beneficence to the fetus, the physician must respect the patient’s autonomy and continue care to the client and not intervene against...

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