Wisdom, casuistry, and the goal of reproductive counseling

Reproductive counseling includes counseling of prospective parents by obstetricians, clinical geneticists, and genetic counselors regarding, for example, the use of assisted reproductive technologies, prenatal testing, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Two different views on wisdom and the goal of reproductive counseling are analyzed. According to the first view, the goal of reproductive counseling is to help prospective parents reach a wise decision. A specific course of action is recommended by the counselor in contrast to other possible alternatives. According to the second view, the goal of reproductive counseling is not to help prospective parents reach a wise decision but to help them reach their own decision wisely. It is the prospective parents who should make the decision, and it is their value commitments that should be decisive. It is argued that the second approach is to be preferred to the first. It combines respect for autonomy with a recognition of the need for assistance in decision-making. Both the first and second views relate the goal of reproductive counseling to wisdom. A problem is, however, what wisdom more precisely means — there are many different views. A casuistic view of wisdom is investigated. This view roughly defines wisdom as practical prudence in dealing with particular cases. What characterizes a casuistic decision-making method is elaborated in more detail. Applied to the second view, a casuistic view of wisdom implies that the counselor should encourage prospective parents to take into consideration the nature of the particular problem at hand, the context of the problem, their own individual identities, their personal value commitments, and various alternative perspectives, values and arguments.
Keywords assisted reproductive technologies  casuistry  genetic counseling  nondirectiveness  prenatal testing  reproductive counseling  wisdom
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DOI 10.1023/A:1021105606636
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Madelyn M. Peterson (2008). Response. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 5 (2-3):223-224.

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