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The case of Medea--a view of fetal-maternal conflict.
  1. M C Reid,
  2. G Gillett
  1. University of Otago Medical School, New Zealand.


    Medea killed her children to take away the smile from her husband's face, according to Euripides, an offence against nature and morality. What if Medea had still been carrying her two children, perhaps due to give birth within a week or so, and had done the same? If this would also have been morally reprehensible, would that be a judgment based on her motives or on her action? We argue that the act has multiple and holistic moral features and that, in fact, there is no absolute principle, such as the right of the fetus to life, which governs our moral judgments about fetal-maternal conflicts. We suggest that they illustrate a pervasive feature of human moral discourse and can only be addressed by attending to a range of negotiable moral considerations which depend on particular features of each situation.

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