Exploring the Ethical Issues in the movie MY SISTER'S

Categories: Virtues


Virtue ethics: A right act is the action a virtuous person would do in the same circumstances.Virtue ethics is based on person rather than action. Looks at the virtue or ethical character of the person carrying out an action, rather than at ethical duties and rules, or the consequences of particular actions.

Virtue ethics not only deals with the rightness or wrongness of individual actions, it provides guidance as to the sort of characteristics and behaviours a good person will seek to achieve.

Is it ethically and morally correct to plan a savior baby to be a donor for a sick sibling? Is it virtuous to believe that each child within a home should be loved equally? What happens when children are not loved or valued equally?

Kate Fitzgerald was suffering from Leukaemia, and her mother, Sara, has to make a decision about her care. In an anxious attempt to save her daughter's life, Sara decides to have a savior baby for Kate.

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Sara was virtuous because she was taking so much care about Kate. Because in many instances children like Kate are left uncared for.

Anna does not have a positive view about her and her mother's relationship. Anna always thought she is not cared for by her mother. At many instances, Sara Fitzgerald showed that she doesn't consider Anna to be of any importance beyond being a donor for her sister. Sara Fitzgerald cared more for one child than another, which is stated in the movie several times as being the wrong kind of behavior.

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But, usually a sick child will be always cared more than the normal child and this can't be projected as morally incorrect.

The viewer was made to think that Anna brought a lawsuit against her parents for medical emancipation because she no longer wanted to be forced to take part in Kate's treatment. By the end of the movie Anna's true reasons for filing the lawsuit came out. Kate asked her to file the suit, so that she could die when she felt ready, not when Sara Fitzgerald went out of options.

Anna was also virtuous as she was donating living tissues required for Kate voluntarily and filed for medical emancipation only when forced by Kate. But otherwise, Anna was even ready to donate her kidney.

Kate was also morally right in asking Anna to file for medical emancipation because Anna had already done so many donations of granulocytes , lymphocytes and so Kate didn't want Anna to go through all the trouble again and again.


Deontology is also called Kantianism. According to Kantianism, one should adhere to obligations and duties, as it is a duty and not because of personal interests/gain, desires or situation.

Acting rightly with best motive irrespective of consequences is nothing but Deontology. Sara showed deontology and had decided that it was okay if Anna was asked to donate living tissue for Kate right from Anna's birth.

Medical paternalism is called so when people trust what they know is best for others. Kate's mom thought what she was doing was right, irrespective of what other people opined.

Sara could not come to terms with the fact that Kate was dying and she didn't deal with it. Sara caused maleficence by putting Anna through all those unnecessary surgeries. All this while Anna was totally unaware of the things happening with her and also couldn't decide what was best for her. Sara planned for another child for the benefit of Kate.

It was parents' duty to look for options which are good for all the three children. All the while, Sara was doing only this.


Do maximum good to maximum number of people. Also means maximizing the benefit and minimizing the harm in order to benefit the maximum number of people. The consequences of an action make that action morally correct or incorrect.

The utilitarian approach is emphasizing that there is more good done than harm. In the movie, I think that the mother took this approach in deciding whether to have another child to save the life of Kate. When she made this decision she thought she would have the benefit of one more child and she would also be able to save the life of Kate who had cancer and she needed a donor. Even though the procedures harmed Anna, the mother thought it was not as bad as having her first daughter die which was a greater good.


Principle of Beneficence:

It is the duty of health care providers to be of a benefit to the patient.If possible the benefit (after assessing risk-benefit ratio) should be maximized. Applies equally to individuals as to society

The issue of Anna being "created" through IVF for the sole purpose of being an appropriate match for her ill sister. It could be considered as both promoting good (beneficence) and causing harm (maleficence). Throughout Anna's life, she was subjected to pain and risks. On the other hand, these procedures prolonged Kate's life. As a mother, I think beneficence takes priority; but after Kate's situation became futile, nonmaleficence to both girls is a priority.

Principle of nonmaleficence:

Do not intentionally create a needless harm or injury to the patient, either through acts of commission or omission. Providing a proper standard of care that avoids or minimizes the risk of harm.

Ethical terms that opposed Kate's mom's actions are nonmaleficence, is doing harm to another. Kate's mom was making Anna to donate granulocytes, lymphocytes, bone marrow only to prolong Kate and not to harm Anna. During the time, Anna had no idea what was going on and had no say in the things she wanted. Kate's mom thought that it was ok for her to conceive another child for the good of her first born. .

Principle of respect for autonomy:

Anna has been donating blood and bone marrow to Kate since the time she was born. Anna didn't know what was happening with her until she was 11 years old. That's when Anna begins to realize that she is born to prevent death of Kate by donating blood and bone marrow regularly. Anna's parents didn't consider what Anna really wanted. Anna was vulnerable. There is no respect for autonomy here. Anna's request for medical emancipation and Kate's wish to die. Patient autonomy is not clear cut when it concerns a minor. However, autonomy takes priority when the child is developmentally able to comprehend the situation. In addition, their wishes should always be considered with regard to their own care.

This can be considered doing harm.

Principle of justice:

States that everyone should be treated fairly. Here, Sara is bothered about only Kate. Anna can't tell that her mother loves her as a person separate from her sister; in fact, she believes that her mother only sees her in conjunction with her sister's treatment. Sara's characterization and traits identify her as being callous toward her daughter Anna. But it is not so. Anna is vulnerable here.


My sister's keeper is a story about Anna who was a designer baby conceived to be a donor for her sister, Kate. Anna was eleven years old. Kate was three years older, was suffering from leukaemia. Anna has donated to Kate for her survival and in the course of time Kate has gone into Kidney failure. Anna's parents turned towards Anna for kidney donation. She files a case of medical emancipation against her parents so that she can be the owner of her own body.

Jessie is the older brother of Anna and Kate. Brian and Sara are their parents. Sara was working as a lawyer earlier and she gave up her job to take care of Kate. Brian worked at a local firehouse. Sara tries to convince Anna to withdraw the case. Sara wanted Anna to donate a kidney to Kate and help her. Brian does not support anybody and is depressed. Anna after moving out of the house stays in the firehouse.

Jessie was upset with Kate's illness. Jessie starts drinking, stealing, using drugs and getting into arson. He has been setting fires around town that Brian and the other firefighters have had to put out. When Brian finds out his son is behind the fires, he confronts him. Brian learns that Jesse has been deeply affected by Kate's illness, and so he decides to keep it to himself that Jesse is the arsonist.

When hearing for Anna begins, Judge Joan would have just returned from the 6 month vacation for grief of her child's death. Her child died in a car accident caused by drunk driving. Joan assigns Anna to stay with a guardian Julia Romano, who also knows Anna' lawyer, Campbell. They attended the same school and dated until Campbell called off their relationship. When Anna's case brings them together again, their attraction becomes obvious despite their intention to remain professional throughout the lawsuit.

In the midst of all this, Kate conveys to her mother why she wants to die and that very night she expires. The family's life starts to normalize and Sara starts to work as a lawyer, Brian starts training youth who are dropouts from college. Eventually, Jesse stops stealing, starting fires, using drugs, and drinking alcohol. He starts attending school and ends up becoming a police officer. Anna always felt she had the most wonderful sister ever and their relationship continues.


Sara and Brain forced her to donate granulocytes, lymphocytes, platelets to Kate. Can Sara and Brian utilise Anna to donate living tissue for Kate?Kate and Anna have compromised autonomy and their parents being surrogate decision makers and Anna being a savior baby for Kate, Anna's parents only thought of beneficence and they had no intention to cause maleficence to Anna.

Donation of body tissue should be altruistic and voluntary. It is highly unethical to force a living person to donate organs as it disrespects the dignity of the human body.

Kate was suffering from leukaemia. She needed a saviour sibling to prolong her life. So her parents went ahead for preimplantation genetic diagnosis and Anna was born who was a savior sibling for Kate. In this case scenario, preimplantation genetic diagnosis was used ethically.

Both Sara and Anna are virtuous enough to help Kate.

Sarah should not have been allowed to advocate for Anna's involvement in the transplants because of her biased thought process.

Anna being a savior baby is vulnerable with compromised autonomy.

Kate was stigmatized because of her appearance and she couldn't socialize with other people.

Deontology was expressed by Kate's mom. when she had decided that it was fine if she had used Anna for Kate's medical problem from the time of birth of Anna.

The utilitarian approach is emphasizing that there is more good done than harm. In the movie, I think that the mother took this approach in deciding whether to have another child to save the life of Kate.

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Exploring the Ethical Issues in the movie MY SISTER'S. (2019, Dec 08). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/exploring-the-ethical-issues-in-the-movie-my-sister-s-414-example-essay

Exploring the Ethical Issues in the movie MY SISTER'S
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