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Legal and ethical issues regarding-the autonomy of the pregnant woman with special reference to foetal surgery and treatment

Pickworth, Emma Gail Gillian (1996) Legal and ethical issues regarding-the autonomy of the pregnant woman with special reference to foetal surgery and treatment. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Though the pregnant woman usually wants her foetus to be born a healthy child, and though she usually concurs with the physician as to the best method by which to attain this goal, there are circumstances when their goals and wishes will not concur. Due to the recent 'reproduction revolution', the foetus is now treatable in a multitude of circumstances and is no longer a mysterious entity whose protection lies solely in the hands of God or chance. Therefore, a possible conflict of interests arises between the physician or the government, who may have the interest of the foetus at heart (due to their interest in the sanctity of life) and the pregnant woman, who may have her interest in freedom from unwanted bodily intrusion at heart. Gerald Dworkin's theory of autonomy is compared to other theories of liberty and autonomy, and is favoured for its legal applicability and then applied to the scenario of the pregnant woman. The thesis aims to legally regulate the conflict of interests recommending that out of a concern for her individual autonomy, the pregnant woman should at no point be forced into unwanted bodily intervention. On the other hand, it is recommended that her right to demand treatment on her own behalf, or on behalf of the foetus should be made subject to governmental control due to the potential of the foetus to become human, and due to its human origins. However, the pregnant woman will still retain some protection due to the inequality with other woman that would otherwise arise. It is with the most recent technologies that this thesis proves most important, for the possibilities of genetically or cosmetically altering the foetus are increasing, and it is important that the law controls such treatments to prevent the trampling of rights.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Jurisprudence
Thesis Date:1996
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Oct 2012 15:08

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