Medical and legal authorization for therapeutically induced childbirth in anencephaly cases: ethical implications

Samuel Servinhani Fernandes Bruna Fonseca Silva Landri Carvalho Neto Fernando Batigália About the authors

Abstract

Anencephaly is a congenital anomaly in which the neural tube closes improperly, affecting the formation of the cranial vault and much of the brain. Therefore, in anencephaly, the hypothesis of fetal unfeasibility is considered. In cases of unfeasible extra-uterine fetal life or maternal health risk, it is possible to resort to the therapeutic induction of childbirth. This article discusses the ethical implications concerning the authorization of therapeutic induction of childbirth in case of anencephaly, such as: the physician’s influence on the patient’s decision making; failure to implement the methods of preventing this anomaly; legal differences between abortion and therapeutic induction of childbirth. The latter is a novelty within the legal field in Brazil, since the Penal Code criminalizes abortion, except in cases of life-threatening pregnancy or pregnancy resulting from rape.

Abortion; Anencephaly; Folic acid; Bioethics; Legislation

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