From the time of conception, through the gestation of pregnancy, to the birth of a newborn child exists an extraordinary, emergent ethics. How does this ethics come into being when a child is conceived? How does the appearance of ethics in pregnancy differ from its emergence after birth? How does the original meaning of ethics relate to modern morality in decision making?
In this book, Michael van Manen explores these ethical moral complexities and conceptualizations of life's beginnings. He delves into perennial and contemporary aspects of conception, pregnancy, and birth to present ethics as a fundamental phenomenon in the experiential encounter between parent and child. Even in the context of neonatal-perinatal medicine, where all manner of medical technologies and illnesses may potentially complicate the developing relation of parent and child, ethics is always already present yet also enigmatic in its origin. And yet, to approach ethical moral questions, we need to understand the inception of ethics.
The Birth of Ethics: Phenomenological Reflections on Life's Beginnings is an essential text not only for health professionals and researchers but also for parents, family members, and others who care and take responsibility for newborns in need of medical care.
Michael van Manen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Endowed Chair of Health Ethics and Director of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre at the University of Alberta, Canada. He has a clinical practice as a physician in neonatal-perinatal medicine with the Stollery Children's Hospital.
Introduction. Section I Before a Child is Born. Conceiving Ethics. Pregnant with Child. Ultrasound Imaging and Virtual Presence. Nascent Expectations and Hope. Meaningful Outcomes. Section II In the Cradle of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Newborn Encounters. Technics of Touch. Skin-to-Skin Togetherness. Imaging the Child. Attachment and Responsibility. Section III Ethics and Decisions Situating Decisions. Decisions Without Choices. Looking for Ways Out of Decisions. Thinking and Feeling Through Decisions. Decisions and Indecisions. Falling into Decisions. Conclusions and Beginnings. Ethical Moral Perspectives. References