Compounding Vulnerability: Pregnancy and Schizophrenia

American Journal of Bioethics 6 (2):W1-W14 (2006)
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The predominant ethical framework for addressing reproductive decisions in the maternal–fetal relationship is respect for the woman's autonomy. However, when a pregnant schizophrenic woman lacks such autonomy, healthcare providers try to both protect her and respect her preferences. By delineating etic (objective) and emic (subjective) perspectives on vulnerability, I argue that options which balance both perspectives are preferable and that acting on etic perspectives to the exclusion of emic considerations is rarely justified. In negotiating perspectives, we balance the etic commitment to protect the vulnerable patient and her fetus from harm with the emic concern to empower a decisionally incapacitated woman. Equilibrium is best achieved by nurturing interdependent relationships that empower and protect the vulnerable woman. The analysis points to the need for better social support for mentally ill patients.



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Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Deciding for Others: The Ethics of Surrogate Decision Making.Allen E. Buchanan & Dan W. Brock - 1989 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Dan W. Brock.

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