Volume 23, Number 3, Fall 2012


“An Ethical Priority Greater than Life Itself”

Edmund G. Howe

The Journal of Clinical Ethics 23, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 195-206.


This article discusses a case in this issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics by McCrary and colleagues, “Elective Delivery Before 39 Weeks’ Gestation Reconciling Maternal, Fetal, and Family Circumstances,” in which parents asked the medical team to deliver their fetus “early.” The author discusses (1) the importance that parents have to a child when they are able to love the child, and how important it is for decision makers to consider this; (2) exceptional approaches that may enable parents to “change their minds”; and (3) substantive and procedural innovations that may help to prevent clinicians’ views from playing too big a role and/or being arbitrary. The author concludes by describing how he felt when reading the case and uses this to illustrate how clinicians may benefit by assessing their feelings.

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