Starting with some basic distinctions, i.e. the distinction between an ethics of human self-fulfilment ,of individual and social values and of virtues on one hand, and an ethics of individual rights, of obligation and of social justice on the other, this paper explores the manifold scenario of the problems of prenatal diagnosis with respect to these different aspects of ethical analysis. This is followed by a normative evaluation of the status of the human embryo, and by an elaboration of different adressees of responsibility in the field of biomedicine and, especially, of prenatal genetic diagnosis. The author comes to the conclusion that a narrow-minded vision of person and personhood ignores the necessary connection of biological identity and biographical continuity as well as the necessity of social recognition as one of the moral roots of personhood. Thus, the author argues that, for ethical reasons, in general the protection of embryo and of fetus must be demanded. However, in situations of conflict (and prenatal diagnosis can certainly be regarded as such) the search of a balance between well-being and rights is an adequate response to the situation. With respect to this conflict of rights, the author explores the different adressees and the different levels of responsibility and shows that the responsibility of a pregnant women or of a couple must be supported by medical and political measures. These measures primarily concern access to adequate medical and psychological counselling as well as financial and social support for families, especially those who live with handicapped children.
© EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2001.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hille_haker/1/