Legal and Ethical Issues in Fetal Surgery

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 115, pp. 80-83, 2011

4 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2011

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Recent research in the US has shown the advantages for children’s welfare of open fetal surgery over postnatal treatment for myelomeningocele. However, a balance must be struck between complications of premature birth risked by prenatal surgery and the long-term advantages for affected children’s health, including mobility and neurological capacity. Risks for women are repeated surgery for intervention and delivery. The research raises legal and ethical questions about how fetal interests should influence women’s choices, and whether women may decline interventions in their pregnancies that offer their children lifelong advantages. Beyond fetal interests and women’s preferences are state interests in fetal life, which in the US and elsewhere have been expressed in judicially authorized cesarean deliveries. Underlying issues are the nature of fetal interests, contrasting entitlements to care from their mothers of fetuses and born children, healthcare providers’ responsibilities toward fetuses, and duties of care, information and advice to pregnant women.

Keywords: Fetal Interests, Fetal Surgery, Myelomeningocele, Research, Spina Bifida, State Interest in Fetal Life, Time of Birth

JEL Classification: I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard and Cook, Rebecca J., Legal and Ethical Issues in Fetal Surgery (2011). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 115, pp. 80-83, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1932464

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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