Classrooms of the 21st Century
Technology in Education

BIOETHICS FORUMS DECISION NOTEBOOK

Pregnant Woman
"I can't wait for my baby -- three more weeks. This hasn't been a picnic. I've been sick, tired, sure I'm happy, but everybody and his little brother thinks he knows what's best for me. Look, when I found out I was pregnant, I quit smoking, I started taking vitamins, I get plenty of sleep, and by-and-large, I don't drink. This know-it-all sticks his nose in my business, in front of my friends. Implies I'm careless or irresponsible. It's too much. I want him canned."

Why is he/she a stakeholder?
She is a stakeholder because the waiter refused to serve her the drink she ordered. Also, she will be responsible for raising the child after it is born.

What values does he/she hold?
We can learn some of her values by listening to what she said in the interview. Her tone of voice indicates that she feels strongly about what happened. Strong emotions often indicate strongly held values.

Privacy
Many people believe that individuals have a right to keep information about themselves private if they wish to do so. An information issue related to privacy is the belief that people have a right to information about themselves.

Analysis
The waiter invaded her privacy by sticking "his nose in my business."

Autonomy
Autonomy is having control of your own fate and making your own decisions. It includes freedom of action as well as control of information about oneself. Individual autonomy is when a person has control of his or her own decisions and destiny. This includes religious beliefs, the right to work, and rights guaranteed by the social contract. Family autonomy is control of the decisions within the family. It includes reproductive decisions, disciplinary measures, and consenting to medical procedures. Corporate autonomy is when businesses make their own decisions without outside interference. The doctrine of free enterprise states that the market is the best control of businesses and corporations, not outside regulators. National autonomy is when a nation has control of its decisions and destiny, free from interference from other nations or international organizations like the United Nations or the World Bank.

Analysis
She feels the waiter violated her autonomy by refusing to serve her the drink she ordered and telling her to drink a nonalcoholic drink instead. She is offended that he tried to take away her right to decide what is right for her and her fetus.

Personal Ethics
Personal ethics are sets of rules that guide people through life's difficult decisions. They vary from person to person, and are derived from many sources including religion, philosophy, and the social contract.
Five common personal ethics are honesty, respect, trust, honor, and fairness. Honesty means telling the truth and not breaking an agreement. Some people believe they should always tell the truth, even if nobody asked for it or if it hurts someone. Others give the truth only when asked to do so, or when it will save someone from harm.
Respect and honor are ways of recognizing another person's autonomy. To respect and honor a person is to recognize that person's ability to make decisions for himself and to not interfere once the decision is made.
Trust is having faith that another person will honor and respect you.
Fairness is an attempt to make sure everyone has what they need without interfering with the autonomy of others.


Analysis
The waiter humiliated and embarassed the woman by refusing to serve her a drink in front of her friends. She feels he did not give her the respect she deserves.

What are his/her immediate objectives?
She wants the owner to fire the waiter, and would probably like an apology.

What information is relevant?
She needs to know specific information about alcohol and how it affects a fetus as well as the restaurant's policies about serving alcohol.

Drink To Your Health!
Those of us who like to savor a glass of fine wine with our meals or finish off a delightful evening with a snifter of brandy can take heart from the latest medical findings: moderate drinkers live longer than those who drink too much or those who drink not at all.
According to an 11-year study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, men who drank about two to four drinks a week had the lowest death rate of all groups studied. Even those bon vivants who swilled six glasses a week lived longer (and, no doubt, more pleasurable) lives than those who denied themselves such simple joys.
Not only were moderate drinkers found less likely to die from the nation's biggest killer, heart disease, but they were also less likely to die from violence, accidents, and suicide.
For those who drink more than a glass a day, however, the prospect is less salubrious: their risk of death from heart disease remained low, but they also had increased death rates due to cancer, liver disease, violence, accidents, and suicide.


Protect the Baby in Your Womb
Tobacco: Tobacco is a dangerous drug containing harmful chemicals that can harm a growing fetus. Smoking during pregnancy will increase the risk that your baby will be born prematurely or dangerously small, and, after birth, to at high risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SID).
Cat Litter: Even healthy cats can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. Infection by this parasite during pregnancy can cause severe fetal injury, brain damage, or death. Avoid handling cat litter boxes or soil contaminated with cat feces.
Alcohol: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Babies with FAS can suffer mental retardation, attention deficits, learning disorders, and cranial or facial deformities. Since no safe dose of alcohol has been determined, most doctors recommend that you do not drink at all during pregnancy.


Analysis
This article about the positive health benefits associated with moderate drinking is the kind of medical article that might appear in a newspaper or magazine. It presents interesting and potentially useful information about moderate drinking; a moderate drinker could use the article to argue against people who demonize all drinking. But there's a danger to taking the article at face value: the information in the article may have originally been reported in a medical journal with many scientific qualifications and reservations. Readers may neglect to consider possible variables, especially if the article supports their current behavior. Note that the article does not mention the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, which the second article restates. Considered together, the two articles point to the difficulty of gathering medical information. Much of what we hear or read may be incomplete or contradictory.

Sign In Restaurant
A sign at the restaurant that says drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

Analysis
The sign warns of the possible dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It is not clear where the sign is located or if the woman saw the sign. The sign does not discuss the variables that influence the risk factor, such as the mother's ethnicity or the stage of pregnancy during which the alcohol is consumed. It is also not clear what the implications of the sign are. Does it mean that pregnant women are not allowed to drink? Does it mean that pregnant women must assume all responsibility if they choose to drink alcohol?

Civil Rights Lawyer
"This is an adult woman. Adult. She's in charge of her body and that of her fetus, not anybody else, particularly some stranger, some waiter. What's he gonna do next? Refuse to serve an overweight person dessert? Refuse french fries to a person with skin problems?"

Mother With PKU Who Has a Child
"I have a genetic disease called phenylketonuria. I'm okay, I just have to be careful about what I eat. But when I was pregnant, I had to be really careful, scrutinize what I ate, because the food that hurts me, would devastate my baby. It was hard, but a mother does what she has to for her baby or her fetus. A mother is the best and final judge."

Analysis
The civil rights lawyer believes that, as an adult, the woman has the right to decide what she wants to drink. He feels the waiter is interfering with her rights as a citizen. But what about the fact that she is pregnant? Does that change the issue? Does society have the right to step in to protect the fetus? The mother with PKU doesn't think so. She believes that a mother is the best judge of what's best for her and her fetus. Do you agree? Do your views on whether or not a fetus has rights influence your opinion?

Am I An Alcoholic?
One of the most difficult obstacles the alcoholic must overcome is denial. We say that we drink to relax, drink to have fun, drink to be social. We say anything to justify our drinking, rather than admit that we drink to get drunk. The first step, often the hardest step, on the road to sobriety is admitting to yourself that you are an alcoholic.
These questions may help you determine whether you have an alcohol problem:
- Do your ever wake up in the morning feeling you need a drink?
- Have your family, friends, or coworkers ever asked you to cut down on your drinking?
- Do you find yourself longing for a drink?
- Has drinking ever caused you trouble on the job, led to family fights, or gotten you in trouble with the law?
- Have you ever been in an accident or been ticketed because you drove your car under the influence of alcohol?
- Have you ever had a "blackout," a period in which you could not remember what you did while you were drinking?


Analysis
Is the pregnant woman an alcoholic? What are the warning signs that a woman is an alcoholic? Does the woman's behavior suggest she is an alcoholic? Does the waiter know enough about the woman to know if she is an alcoholic? Do we? Who does?


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