Healthcare Ethics

Category: Health

The problem of abortion in healthcare ethics is one of the most serious and the most debatable. Depriving a person of life is not justified in the society. As to the abortion, it presupposes the intentional killing. Consequently, one should regard this issue from the moral and ethical approaches. First of all, abortion includes the aspect of self-awareness. Therefore, the responsibility for such an immoral act should be put on the woman who makes a decision to intentionally terminate her pregnancy and healthcare employees who agree to perform the abortion. Current research paper intends to study the moral and ethical aspects of abortion and regard it as an immoral and unethical activity. 

The Dilemma of Abortions

Abortion refers to as an intentional termination of pregnancy. Usually, the induced abortion is regarded as immoral and unethical activity. Moreover, abortion is a problem that violates human rights as every human being has a right to life. The ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ positions are two approaches to abortions that reveal pros and cons arguments of this problem. According to the pro-life position, abortion is morally impermissible; therefore, abortion should be prohibited. According to the pro-choice position, abortion is morally permissible and conditioned. Such approach allows abortion and does not regard it as morally wrong. 

However, this problem is complex as the moral rights of a person, who wants to have an abortion as well as physical status of the embryo should be taken into consideration. Terminating a pregnancy before normal childbirth is not morally right and can be equal to murdering. Moreover, the embryo is an innocent human being whose life deprivation is considered unjustified. It means that women and healthcare specialists are responsible for saving life of the embryo despite their legal choice to have children or terminate  pregnancy. 

Abortion can be regarded as murdering because no parent is allowed to kill his/her children. Moreover, pregnancy termination presupposes the conflict of rights between mother and her child in the womb. As a result, the conflict provokes many questions related to the right of the doctor to kill, the right of the unborn child to life and the right of mother to have an abortion. One can say that abortion is the worst crime as it is purposeful, well-thought and perfectly planned. The purposeful pregnancy termination is an unethical and immoral dilemma that leads to heavy consequences for both sides (mother and doctor). As a result, abortion is unjustified and a number of ethical theories prove this statement. 

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Abortion and Its Relation to the Ethical Theories

The ethical aspect of abortion can be regarded according to the following ethical theories: (1) Classical Utilitarianism, (2) Natural Law, (3) Virtue Ethics, (4) Situation Ethics and (5) Christian Ethics. Comparing with the Utilitarianism that supports a pro-choice position in abortion, the supporters of Classical Utilitarianism are against such opinion. According to Classical Utilitarianism, women have no right to choose. Moreover, women can have abortion in some circumstances if they benefit. Therefore, it means that even Classical Utilitarianism is not categoric regarding the dilemma of abortion. However, their denial of the absolute rights given to women proves that abortion is not the ethical and moral matter. For example, abortion is forbidden by law in the Philippines. Moreover, the Revised Penal Code criminalizes both women who undergo abortion and people who assist in the procedure.

“So God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:26).” In addition, it is stated in the Bible that “God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 1:27).”  It means that Christian Ethics is against abortion regardless of any circumstances. Abortion is undesirable for all Christians as Christianity teaches that human life is holy and humans have the image of God. According to Marquis, the Sanctity of Life is the concept of Christian Ethics.  Christian Ethics forbids abortion and is considered to be moral and ethical because it is based on the Biblical principles.

Another ethical theory that forbids abortion is Natural Law. Firstly, this approach presupposes asking about the purpose and design of people as humans. Secondly, Natural Law intends to preserve and protect the innocent. Thirdly, its conception encourages to refuse from abortion. However, according to the utilitarian calculation, abortion is an option when a woman intends to save her life or health. As to the opponents of Natural Law, abortion is considered an option. The utilitarianism supposes that it is better to kill one man if it saves lives of other 12. However, Natural Law rejects this option as killing an innocent person is not a solution to the problem. Moreover, this ethical theory regards abortion as an evil act that has a double nature. In addition, they suppose that it is ethical to terminate the ectopic pregnancy.  Therefore, they suppose that it is wrong to remove an ovary as it may lead to the ability to have children in future. However, such kind of pregnancy does not threaten woman’s life.

According to Natural Law, financial problems in a family cannot be the reason for abortion. Moreover, the threat to health is not the basement for killing a future child. In addition, health problems caused by giving a birth are also not justified as this fact cannot be true. Natural Law is deontological and absolute. Aquinas is the representative of Natural Law and its deontological principles. The primary precept of Aquinas states that the continuation of human species is possible through the reproduction. The second percept forbids homosexuality, abortion and contraception Torres & De Vries, 2009). Consequently, he insists on preservation of innocent and self-preservation. It means that abortions are not allowed.

Situation Ethics also regards abortion as the evil. However, this approach is based on the rules that can be used as instructions to different situations. Situation Ethics relies on positive feelings like love that allows doing the right things and pushing the principles aside. For example, the Church of England regards abortion as the evil. However, in certain situations it looks for the lesser of two evils. Consequently, it addresses to the situational approach. Therefore, abortion may be an act of love, if a woman has been raped. According to Situation Ethics, pleasure is not considered to be good. As a result, Fletcher's Situation Ethics encourages to act in the best interests of others.  

One should say that Situation Ethics is related to the Christian one. According to the Christian ethics, people were created, instructed and reproduced by God. Taking the Christian ethics for basis, Situation Ethics supports the idea of creating families, nurturing and educating children. However, Situation Ethics allows the extreme circumstances that demand a different loving response like abortion. For example, in China and many other Asian countries abortion is a method of birth control. Moreover, Situation Ethics justifies abortion if a foetus can have serious defects. Situation Ethics justifies abortion if pregnancy resulted from rape or on the early stages. 

For example, Situation Ethics will justify the abortion performed on an unmarried schizophrenic patient after being raped. Another example was the abortion of Jewish mothers in concentration camps who could be incinerated if they became pregnant. 

Virtue Ethics is another approach that condemned abortion. Virtue Ethics is considered to be too idealistic. However, its main aspect is morality. Moreover, it regards people as courageous, temperate and compassionate who have to help each other. When it comes to abortion, people should be against them. Virtue Ethics regards the foetus as the most important. Consequently, the supporters of Virtue Ethics encourage preventing abortion in order to save moral virtues of those who intend to do abortions. In addition, Virtue Ethics addresses to risk factors after abortion that are considered to be the punishment for immoral behavior. They include death, breast cancer, problems with future pregnancy, infections and severe bleeding.

Counterarguments

It is evident that abortion is unethical and wrong. However, there are many ethical theories that regard abortion as a compromise. For example, Kant's ethical theory supports abortion. His approach shows tolerance and respect to abortion as a solution to the unwanted pregnancy. Kant gives humans the possibility to determine what to do with their bodies. The philosopher insists that it is up to a woman to have or not to have an abortion. The right of self-determination prevails under the aspect of morality. Abortion breaks the universal law of morality and ends a valuable life. However, the main weakness of Kant's theory is its failure to provide the definition of abortion.

Kant's ethical theory promotes the maxim that one should have an abortion. Another maxim is that women who were raped should terminate the unwanted pregnancy. Despite the controversial nature, it is evident that Kant's ethical theory has a pro-abortion conception. According to Kant’s theory, several learning disabilities of the future baby can be the reason for abortion. In addition, mental illnesses refer to another reason for performing the abortion.  

The theological approach to ethics such as Utilitarianism regards abortion as an acceptable activity. If the outcomes after abortion are positive for women and other people, then abortion is justified. The 1967 Act sees abortion as undesirable, but it provides the unlimited access to the procedure. Utilitarian Ethics insists on bringing more happiness and avoiding less pain. Moreover, this approach gives women an opportunity to make a decision by themselves. It respects the choice of people in making ethical or unethical decisions. Besides, utilitarian approach takes into consideration fathers' feelings and regards the family situation in which a baby would be born. 

Liberal Christians also offer the ethical studies that accept the concept of abortion as a choice. It is a relativist approach to abortion that presupposes the search of the most favourable outcome. Liberal Christians take into account the situation encouraging to abortion. They state that abortion is a tragic option. However, there are situations that can become the most loving option. Liberal Christians support abortion when unborn foetus or mother is in danger or in case a mother has been raped. Moreover, they always address to God and believe that He can forgive even abortion. Consequently, such activity as abortion can be accepted. There are also Christians who appreciate mother's life more than that of an unborn child. Liberal Christianity gives the possibility to women to make their personal decisions. Only women can decide whether abortion is acceptable or not for them as women are responsible for becoming pregnant. Therefore, Liberal Christianity does not establish the set of rules.

These pro-choice ethical studies prove that abortion can be moral and justified despite that it presupposes murdering. First of all, pro-choice philosophers regard abortion as moral when it is a duty to destruct the living foetus or it is an admirable, praiseworthy and honorable act. For example, abortion is considered conscious and intentional if mother knows that an infant is going to live in poverty and crime; when she has no place to live or work in the hazardous conditions; when mother has no hopes for future and cannot provide happy and rewarding life for her future child; or if mother is terminally ill. As a result, for pro-choice philosophers such abortions are justified. On the other hand, the pro-life philosophers state that abortions are immoral. Moreover, pro-choice philosophers do not regard foetus as a person. Only persons have the right to life. One should say that pro-choice philosophers, like Kant, think that it is not wrong to kill the person if he/she has no right to life. Consequently, it is moral for them to do abortions. 

Solution to Abortions

The solution to both for and against abortion arguments should be integrative and complex. The solution to arguments against abortion is the following: the governments should forbid abortion as an acceptable and unethical practice in healthcare. The solution to arguments for abortion is the following: one should determine the cases when abortion is a necessity. One can refer to the cases when mother’s or unborn infant’s life is under the threat, the cases of mortal disease of a mother or the cases of raping and sexual abuse. All other reasons of abortion should be prohibited by law, and thus medical employees and those who address to them should bear criminal responsibility. Abortion should not be justified and approved by the community, but should be preconditioned by the serious circumstances. The healthcare establishments should implement more ethical practices in their policy to prevent unnecessary abortions. 

The Implications for Management Practice and Healthcare Policy

It is worth noting that management practice of health care policy should include social ways of protection of women against having abortions. Both for- and against- abortions positions are widespread in the healthcare field. Consequently, healthcare specialist should be sensitive to pregnant women and help them save the desire to give a birth to the infant. Healthcare policy should motivate and encourage the position against abortions. The laws and regulations forbidding abortions should become the implications for management practice and healthcare policy. Moreover, doctors should promote the birth of children. 

Conclusion and Recommendation

Having analyzed the ethical theories related to the for and against abortion positions, it becomes evident that abortion is an evil, immoral and unethical activity in healthcare that is promoted by doctors. I have chosen against abortion position because it presupposes saving life of the infants. However, having abortion is acceptable only under certain circumstances. To my mind, one cannot have an abortion as it is a purposeful and conscious murdering that leads to the low birth rate and unethical practice among doctors. I recommend forbidding the promotion of abortions in hospitals. Moreover, the task of doctor should be to persuade a woman to refuse from abortion. The doctors and healthcare establishments should address to the governments to forbid abortion as an unacceptable and unethical practice in healthcare. However, there should be exclusions in case pregnancy threatens mother’s life. All other reasons of abortion should be prohibited by law and medical employees. Moreover, those who address to them should bear criminal responsibility. It is recommended to foster the ethical principles among healthcare employees to make them be reasonable and moral regarding pregnancy and abortion. 

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