SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

ABSTRACT  This paper focuses on the issue of aborting abnormal fetuses from the standpoint of the prerogatives and obligations of parents. First, two intuitively-based models of parenthood are developed. In the Trustee Model, parental authority is grounded in the obligation of parents to promote the interests of children, while the Artisan Model locates parental authority in the intrinsic value of parenthood as a mode of parental self-expression. Reasons are given for believing that neither of these models, taken individually, contains a complete or adequate picture of parenthood and that both have counterintuitive implications. Under the assumption that there is little hope of developing a master model for parenthood to supplant the two inadequate models, five principles are developed for determining how the two models should be applied in making moral decisions. These principles are then applied to five categories of abnormal fetuses. The conclusion is that abortions are justified in the first three categories (involving severe abnormalities), but not in the fifth category (involving only slight deformities). The fourth category requires parental discretion. Finally, a check on these conclusions is provided by comparing them with a parental action that would generally be considered impermissible, namely the decision of a Jehovah's Witness not to permit a blood transfusion for his or her child in a life-threatening situation.