A Closer Look at Feticide and Moral Distress

Beth Epstein




Moral distress arises when healthcare providers recognize that a professional ethical obligation cannot be met due to constraints beyond their perceived or actual control. In this commentary, I expand a bit on the meaning and implications of moral distress identified among Israeli maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) physicians who participate in feticide. I examine briefly how exploring unmet professional obligations (for example, preventing harm), identifying who is burdened by the decisions of others, and drawing attention to what is owed to the woman, fetus, and physician may illuminate relevant ethical issues not currently considered in the calculus of late-term abortion decisions. Ultimately, the goal is not to mitigate MFM physicians’ moral distress, but to adequately address the problems that create it.




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