As I thought it might, the Ethics Quiz about “The Ethicist’s” position that a nurse practitioner was obligated to help an unemployed, unmarried, 16-year-old high school drop-out get pregnant provoked a lot of discussion. Here is how the poll results on the issue are running:
And here is Arthur in Maine’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”:
Yikes. I know you hold Appiah in high regard, and your previous posts about his work make clear why. But I agree with you – he’s very much in the wrong on this one.
Many years ago, I worked in a group home for adjudicated teenagers. We had several 15 and 16 year old girls who, like the girl in question, actually wanted to become pregnant (thank God none of them managed to achieve this goal on our watch).
I recognize that my sample size is small enough that this is nothing more than anecdotal – but as far as I’m concerned, well-adjusted 16-year-old girls may adore babies and kids but understand that now’s not the time. To desire pregnancy at that age requires one or more underlying pathologies.
Our clients had all manner of issues, but in the case of these girls, there was a misplaced ideation that the nurturing and care they were denied in their own lives could be re-claimed if directed towards a baby. In other words, these kids were hoping to amend their own loss by showering attention and love on their own kids – to give someone else what they, themselves, weren’t offered.
That’s a rather romantic idea, and one could argue that the desire is, in a sense, a rather sweet way to attempt to cure a terribly cruel factor in their own lives. Certainly, it’s better than stalking their own mothers and taking physical revenge.
But it’s irrational. It should come as no surprise that among other things, these girls were poor students who lacked many of the skills required of normal everyday life – even for well-functioning teenagers. One was a cutter. Another had substance abuse issues. And so on.
Appiah is completely wrong here. Helping the girl get pregnant is a nearly certain way to destroy at least two lives.