Exploring Ethical Issues In Abortion

Introduction

Ethical issues, as well as dilemmas often arise in various forms within a professional practice. Views related to ethical implications on various practices vary across different settings, and also in various disciplines. Ethics play a fundamental role in various contexts, and these include decision-making in a personal context, for instance family, friends, as well as in professional contexts, for instance in a workplace. This is owing to the fact that ethical issues in both professional and personal contexts rarely have either right or wrong answers, as there is no one way of viewing moral decisions, because they are always complex (Doherty & Purtilo, 2015).

Ethics are standards, used by professionals to determine the right action that needs to be taken. They rely on rational, as well as logical criteria whilst reaching a decision. On the other hand, morals describe a behavioral code of conduct that a person ascribes to. They aid in supporting, negotiating, and strengthening relationships between individuals. Values describe the ideas, which people value or prize and finally, laws and policies are involved in critical cases when social workers are under the legal obligation to take a specific action (Caruso, 2012). Considering the synthesis of philosophy work, law, as well as the current medical practice, this paper purposes to discuss various ethical issues relating to abortion, based on 4 different viewpoints. The 4 viewpoints will be reviewed, and significantly discussed, thus reaching a conclusion.

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This paper begins with providing an introduction, which establishes the context and background of the topic. Thereafter, it provides a brief description of the case study, involving Mrs. K, the doctor, as well as Mr. K. This provides a brief mentioning of the ethical issues, and the dilemma raised. Following this, the paper introduces the different people involved, and how they perceive the ethical dilemma. This is accompanied by ethical argument 1: for Mrs. K with her position of abortion; ethical argument 2: for the doctor with his position of abortion; ethical argument 3: for Mr. K on his perception on abortion, and finally ethical argument 4: for the fetus with unknown position on abortion. Following all these, the paper presents how social factors may influence how people respond to the ethical dilemma. Finally, the paper provides a conclusion, which summarizes the content in the paper.

Case Study

The case study is about Mrs. K, (37 years old), who has 4 children. Due to irregular periods, she decides to consult her doctor. She had been on a diaphragm contraception, as she had stopped using control pills due to their side effects. The doctor confirms to her that she is pregnant. However, having another child is not in her interest, as she claims that she cannot cope with another child, because already she has many. It is worth noting that her pregnancy is unintentional, because of the failed contraceptive method. In this regard, the family cannot manage another child. As a result, Mrs. K suffers from depression. The doctor refers Mrs. K to a clinic, having acknowledged that her circumstances fall within the underpinnings in the Abortion Act 1967. Unfortunately, Mr. K, her husband, disagrees with the idea of abortion. The question raised in this case study is that “has the doctor done the right thing?’

This paper will investigate and discuss the ethical issues, which are presented in this case study. Significantly, ethical issues often arise in situations where there seem to be no satisfactory solution, which should be best applied the ethical dilemma. It is clear that there may be contradicting courses of actions, which may appear equally desirable, or even all the presented solutions may appear undesirable (Kim et al., 2015). In the above-mentioned case study, the presented ethical dilemma purposes to address two contradicting viewpoints relating to abortion, thereby discussing whether it is a right or wrong decision, with the circumstances at hand. As such, this essay explores ethical dilemma by discussing four different viewpoints. Hence, discussing whether each of the viewpoints is justified.

Discussion

It is evident that there are three individuals in the present case study and they include Mrs. K, the doctor, as well as Mr. K. Notably, Mrs. K, is a mother, and at the same time, a patient who does not want to have another child, owing to her claim that she cannot manage another child. Either, she cannot provide for another child or the child can prevent her from achieving some of her life goals. As such, she becomes depressed, which might impact on her pregnancy and her physical health. On the other hand, the doctor’s position as a health provider focuses on the Abortion Act 1967. He considers the circumstance at hand, and notes that within the underpinning of Abortion Act 1967, Mrs. K can abort her pregnancy (legislation.gov.uk, 2018). On the other hand, Mr. K opposes the thoughts of the doctor and his wife, and as a father and a husband, the wants Mrs. K to deliver her baby. Focusing on the fetus, it is clear that it has a potential right to life, and it should also be noted that the right of women to abort should only be exercised in an instance where she is in a critical circumstance. Significant to note, the fetus is regarded as a potential human being right from conception and as such, their right to live should be put into consideration (Söderhamn et al., 2015).

Ethical argument 1: Mrs. K

Mrs. K’s contraception failed, which then prompted her to opt for abortion as the only solution, owing to her claim that she cannot cope up with another child. Significant to note, denial of abortion infringes her right to liberty, physical integrity, as well as self-determination (decision-making). Moreover, it is clear that having to be forced to bear a child implies that she will be “inconvenienced,” as feminists suggest that women should be granted the right to have control over their bodies, as they have the right to their health and life (Pozgar, 2019). Mrs. K took every pre-caution to avoid pregnancy, starting from taking abortion pills to having a diaphragm contraception. It is clear that she was told about the risks of this method, as indicated in the code of conduct for health practitioners. Some women desire to terminate their unwanted pregnancies, and as such, the law needs not to prohibit the act of abortion; rather it should grant them their pregnancy rights (Parrott, 2014). Moreover, if Mrs. K chooses to terminate her pregnancy for her personal reason, then she should be granted the privilege, to do so. This reasoning is reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Act (1948), in which case, article 1 notes that every human being is born free, and equal, both dignity and rights. This law suggests that human rights should be inherent to all human beings (United Nations, 2018).

Based on the ethical principles, the principle of utilitarianism suggests that Mrs. K is right for making a decision to abort for her personal reasons. Utilitarianism was developed by Mill, who developed the “greatest happiness principle” that suggested that actions are regarded as right when they amount to happiness, and they are wrong when they amount to the opposite. In accordance with this principle, individuals should be allowed to do what they want if their actions do not cause them harm (Mulgan, 2014). This questions whether the abortion is entirely safe, as she has to consider her health first. The doctor having referred her to a clinic implies that she would be granted a safe abortion. Every individual should be allowed to choose their actions, whether they feel they are moral or immoral. Mrs. K believes her decision should be morally permissible as she cannot cope with another child. Based on the autonomy principle, every individual should be respected whilst making certain choices, as well as actions that relate to their personal beliefs and also values (Boldt, 2018). In an instance where an expectant woman is forced to endure a nine month of emotional, as well as psychological turmoil, she is not an autonomous individual, as the abortion already has impacted depression on her, In this regard, Mrs. K is regarded as a free agent whose final say should be given utmost consideration.

Ethical argument 2: The doctor

The doctor has the right to consciously object to the abortion, and in such an instance, he should not be forced to perform one. Moreover, they also have the right and responsibility to deliver the rights of their patients. The balance of the two rights is that human beings are born with rights and the society should not be in a position to determine their rights, based on their rights (Vaughn, 2015). In this regard, the doctor’s right to deliver the right of Mr. K’s is justified, as she has the right to make personal decisions, and this has prompted her to seek for abortion. The doctor in this case, should be obligated to make an assessment, in which case, he must assess the impacts of pregnancy, as well as Mrs. K’s mental as well as physical health. Significant to note, The Abortion Act 1967, which brought up the Fertilization and Embryology Act 1990 mandates that a registered doctor is granted the power to legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy (Boyle, 2014). Given difficult circumstances around a pregnancy, the doctor should play a significant role of ensuring that the patient feels supported. The doctor has the following responsibilities: the duty to care, and to provide Mrs. K with the relevant information, which can enable her make informed choices on how to cope with her unwanted pregnancy. Moreover, Mrs. K felt that terminating the pregnancy would be in her best interest and therefore, the doctor should protect her, support and respect her decision. As such, he considered the present condition of Mrs. K’s (depressed) and thus referred her to a clinic. In addition, he also noted that Mrs. K was in a mental position to understand the alternative and its procedures. This is what is required of health practitioners in accordance with their standard code of conduct, the Hippocratic Oath, and with respect to autonomy (Smyth & Lane, 2016). Other than abortion, other options that could be presented to Mrs. K other than abortion would be counselling and treatment for depression for her physical well-being. Counselling is a significant part of any abortion procedure, as dictated in the Health and Social Care Act (2012) that requires that women seeking abortion should receive independent counselling (Yang et al., 2016).

Ethical argument 3: Mr. K

It is clear that Mr. K wants a large family, and as such, he is against the abortion. Given his perspective, Mrs. K’s decision of having an abortion might lead to anger, as well as resentment from her husband, which consequently could result in marital disharmony and divorce, and these are extremely harmful to their four children. Mr. K has the right to oppose the abortion, which is seen in his claim, when he disagreed with the abortion. Moreover, he has a “financial abortion” right, in which a woman should be obligated to notify the father of the child when she is pregnant (Burns et al., 2018). In this regard, the father is then allowed legally, to refuse either financial or even legal responsibility. Significantly, his rights are not very important to this ethical dilemma, as the doctor is required to meet the needs of Mrs. K. Mr. K has responsibilities to this pregnancy, as his sperms formed the fetus and later would result into a child, thus, making him responsible. This makes it morally right to disagree with an abortion. It is evident that Mr. K has a religious belief, which makes him believe that pregnancy happens because of a diving purpose and that the innocent fetus must be preserved (Kozlowska et al., 2016). However, it is clear that having a child does not threaten Mrs. K’s life, but it endangers her mentally, by giving her depression, and this justifies an abortion. Additionally, Mr. K has not right demanding or refusing the abortion, based on the Abortion Act 1967, as well as the Human Rights Act 1998, which place the whole responsibility to the pregnant woman.

Ethical argument 4: The fetus

Pro-choice supporters uphold the idea of “personhood.” They provide an argument that a fetus should not be regarded to have met the criteria of “personhood” and as such, it fails to have the right to life. Philosophical theorists such as Mary Ann Warren outline a significant set of criterion for “personhood” and this includes capacity to communicate, reasoning, self-motivated activity, and the existence of self-concept (Espey et al., 2015). By using these criteria, pro-choice supporters stress that although fetuses are not able to meet these criteria, as such, they are not entitled to the right to life, but until they have been born. They declare that fetuses are not able to make moral judgements regarding what should be right or wrong, and as such, they should not be granted the same rights are those of human beings. However, arguments against having an abortion, consider fetuses as potential human beings, and as such, they stress that they have the right to life (Parrott, 2014). Anti-abortion supporters highlight that a fetus (unborn child) should be regarded as an innocent human being, thus, making abortion, a wrong act. They note that a fetus is a potential human being, right from the time of conception onwards, and that deliberate abortion needs to be regarded as homicide. In this regard, fetuses have an equal and also full right to life and that women’s right to have an abortion should only be exercised only in critical circumstances. Overall, it is worth noting that considering whether or not a fetus has the right to live depends on the how one defines it and considers it human. Definitely, people have different positions in their life and this includes the time of birth, when the fetus has a brain activity, when it has developed tissue separation, implantation period and also conception (Boldt, 2018). What matters differs on the definition of an individual on a fetus, which consequently determines whether it has a right to life or not. As such, whilst standing against the pro-choice supporters, it is clear that there is a different between potential and actual. Potential human beings should be granted the right to life (Mulgan, 2014).

Religious views makes it clear that human pregnancy is for a divine purpose and that both parents should have an equal say concerning what happens to a baby, whom they have both created. For instance, based on the Catholic view, the prohibition of abortion is grounded in the law that life from the time of conception must be preserved. In 1993, “Abortion and the Church” document was produced by the Church of England and it described abortion as a moral evil, which should only be allowed in an instance where the fetus can endanger the mother’s life or when there is critical fetal disability (Kozlowska et al., 2016).

Marital status

A mutual agreement between two married people is significant. However, when a partner disagrees with the idea of abortion, can lead to great anger, as well as resentment, which could consequently lead to marital discord and divorce, which is definitely harmful for children. As such, it is worth taking into account, these consequences before procuring an abortion, in order to enhance happiness in the entire family (Andersen et al., 2015).

Age

Significantly, whilst considering all the medical procedures, a patient is required to give a proper consent for abortion. In the UK, patients from 16 years and above are assumed to be having the right capacity to do so, unless otherwise. However, those under 16 years are allowed to give consent if they have been deemed competent (Jones & Jerman, 2017).

Gender

Generally, abortion is regarded as a “women’s issue.” However, it is not seen as an issue, in which women do have substantially different views than men. There are slight differences in both women and men, who describe themselves as pro-choice or even pro-life. As such, it is evident that the two genders hold similar views regarding the extent to which abort should be made legal, but this is applicable in certain circumstances (Barkan, 2014).

Ethnicity

Ethnic diversity engenders cultural, as well as economic revival. Unfortunately, it is becoming a front line, which divides the society. An appreciation of the benefits, as well as complications of ethnic diversity enhances a degree of significant mutual appreciation in various sectors of the society. The public opinion addresses the concern of ethnic diversity, which produces nuance insights on how the public perceives and deals with abortion (Toprani, 2015).

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Conclusion

The aim of this paper, which is to discuss various ethical issues relating to abortion, based on 4 different viewpoints has been met. The 4 viewpoints have been reviewed, and also discussed, thus reaching a conclusion that there is no doubt that the issue of abortion is controversial, and also hotly debated in various academic, as well as professional spheres, with different viewpoints infused with moral, biological, as well as societal complexity. Clearly, many people adopt various positions such as the utilitarian viewpoint, religious perspective, as well as personal view whilst considering an action as either moral or immoral. In the case study presented, owing to the fact that Mrs. K had developed depression, her strong wish to procure an abortion, and the current situation in her family, it is evident that her decision is justified and right. As a woman, she has the right of making her personal choices, and also lead her personal life, in equality and not under her husband’s control. Moreover, it is also clear that Mrs. K became pregnant due to failed contraception, which then strengthens her decision, owing to the fact that her pregnancy is not as a result of carelessness, but from forces, which are outside her control. As such, it is suggestable that future difficult cases should be handled, considering the feelings of those who are directly affected, as well as the consequences of courses of action.

References

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