The Right to Self-Determination versus the Right of the Unborn Child

The Right to Self-Determination versus the Right of the Unborn Child


Discuss the following dilemma: should we uphold the rights of the pregnant woman to exercise her right to self-determination (and therefore her right to abuse substances) or the rights of the future child to be born free of harm? Do not jump to a one-sided answer, but try to discuss this topic from both perspectives. Identify the values present for each side.

Discuss the different positions delineated in the Mathieu article, (consequentialist arguments, “slippery slope,” etc…)

Who should make the decision: the pregnant woman, the courts, human services workers, or someone else? Is it possible to uphold the rights of the pregnant woman and the unborn child?

What policy initiatives and human services interventions do you suggest to address this issue? Discuss any potential benefits and pitfalls of these interventions.

Conclude with your own thoughts on the matter – whether these are “clear-cut”, still developing, or unclear. Include arguments to support your stance.

Your writing should be clear, well organized, with proper spelling and grammar. All arguments and ideas should be supported and cited with proper APA citations. The paper should be typed, double-spaced, normal font and size, approx. 4 pages, with a cover page and reference page.

Please know that I do not expect a “clear-cut” answer. I am looking for you to consider, reflect upon, and discuss one of the many ethical dilemmas that human services professionals face in practice.


This reflection is based upon the video(s) and the assigned readings and it is therefore NOT an anti-abortion/pro-choice dilemma. Although it directly relates to fetal protection, that is not the dilemma that is presented in the video and is not the dilemma that should be addressed in your reflection.

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