The Fetus as a Patient: A Contested Concept and its Normative Implications, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Fetus as a Patient

A Contested Concept and its Normative Implications, 1st Edition

Edited by Dagmar Schmitz, Angus Clarke, Wybo Dondorp


214 pages

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pub: 2018-04-16
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Due to new developments in prenatal testing and therapy the fetus is increasingly visible, examinable and treatable in prenatal care. Accordingly, physicians tend to perceive the fetus as a patient and understand themselves as having certain professional duties towards it. However, it is far from clear what it means to speak of a patient in this connection.

This volume explores the usefulness and limitations of the concept of ‘fetal patient’ against the background of the recent seminal developments in prenatal or fetal medicine. It does so from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. Featuring internationally recognized experts in the field, the book discusses the normative implications of the concept of ‘fetal patient’ from a philosophical-theoretical as well as from a legal perspective. This includes its implications for the autonomy of the pregnant woman as well as its consequences for physician-patient-interactions in prenatal medicine.

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

1.The Fetus as a Patient – a Sustainable Approach for Clinical Interactions in the Field of New Prenatal Medicine? - Dagmar Schmitz, Angus Clarke, Wybo Dondorp

Part II: The Fetus as a Patient: A useful concept?

2. The Disposable and Protected Fetus: Contradictions in Fetal Status - Lucy Frith

3. Which Ethics for the Fetus as a Patient? - Claudia Wiesemann

4.The Ethical Concept of the Fetus as a Patient: Responses to its Critics - Laurence B. McCullough, Frank A. Chervenak

5.Treating the Fetus as a Patient: Possible Implications for its Moral Status - Katrin E. Lörch- Merkle

Part III: The Fetus as a Patient: Where does that leave the pregnant woman?

6. Insights from a Perspective of Cultural Anthropology: A Discourse Analysis of Representations of (Genetic) Reproductive Medicine and the Fetus in Popular Media - Janina Krause

7.The Fetus as a Patient in Professional and Patient Discourses - Heather Strange

8. Means, Ends and the Fetal Patient - Anna Smajdor

9. Caring for Pregnant Cancer Patients - Alma Linkeviciute

Part IV: The Fetus as a Patient: Challenges for clinical care pathways and interactions

10. Treatments and Trials for the Fetal Patient: Imposing the Burdens of Enthusiasm? - Angus Clarke

11. Ethics of Involving Pregnant Women in Fetal Therapy Trials - E.J. (Joanne) Verweij

12. The ‘Normalization’ of Prenatal Screening: Prevention as Prenatal Beneficence? - Wybo Dondorp, Guido de Wert

13. Beyond the Fetal Patient: The Ethics of Fetal Treatment for Down Syndrome - Guido de Wert, Wybo Dondorp

14. Prenatal Therapy for Differences of Sexual Development (DSD): Fuzzy Boundaries in the Clinical Discussion and the Ethical Debate - Mathias Wirthand Marc-Antoine Marquis

15. Perinatal Palliative Care as an Option in Prenatally Diagnosed Severe, Life-Limiting Conditions of the Fetus - Kathrin Knochel, Franziska Flaig, Julia D. Lotz, Monika Führer

Part V: The Fetus as a Patient: Legal perspective

16. The Legal Status of the Fetus as a Patient in Europe - Atina Krajewska, Dimitros Tsarapatsanis

About the Editors

Dagmar Schmitz is Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Theory at the Institute for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Germany, and a member of the German Commission on Genetic Testing (GEKO). In her research, she is especially interested in ethical aspects of physician-patient-interactions and the beginning of life.

Angus Clarke is Clinical Professor at the Institute of Cancer and Genetics, Cardiff University, UK. He works as a clinical geneticist and teaches students of medicine and of genetic counselling. He undertakes research on the social and ethical aspects of human genetics and contributes to policy discussions on genetic services within UK and Europe.

Wybo Dondorp is Associate Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Research Schools CAPHRI and GROW, at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. His research interests include the ethics of reproductive medicine, genomics, and population screening. He is a member of the Health Council of the Netherlands and past coordinator of the Special Interest Group on Ethics of the International Society of Prenatal Diagnosis and Fetal Therapy (ISPD).

About the Series

Biomedical Law and Ethics Library

Scientific and clinical advances, social and political developments and the impact of healthcare on our lives raise profound ethical and legal questions. Medical law and ethics have become central to our understanding of these problems, and are important tools for the analysis and resolution of problems – real or imagined.

In this series, scholars at the forefront of biomedical law and ethics will contribute to the debates in this area, with accessible, thought-provoking, and sometimes controversial ideas. Each book in the series will develop an independent hypothesis and argue cogently for a particular position. One of the major contributions of this series is the extent to which both law and ethics are utilised in the content of the books, and the shape of the series itself.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Ethics & Professional Responsibility
LAW / Health
LAW / Medical Law & Legislation
MEDICAL / Family & General Practice
MEDICAL / Gynecology & Obstetrics
MEDICAL / Ethics
MEDICAL / Perinatology & Neonatology
MEDICAL / Physician & Patient
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy