Abortion And Ethical Dilemmas

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Abortion is defined as “an intervention by a licensed clinician that is intended to terminate an ongoing pregnancy” (CDC, 2019). There are several types of abortions where the aspects of the procedure can differ by age, duration of pregnancy, medical conditions of mother and fetus, and geographical influences. The current law in the United States allows women privacy in making a reproductive decision regarding terminating a pregnancy, but geographical and political influences may result in significant differences in availability and accessibility (Tong,2007b). Abortion is a complex topic where the views and practices have changed and evolved over time, remaining a source of individual and societal discussion. The interest surrounding abortion and whether it should be legal or not is because it involves not only the health of the mother, but also the health of a fetus. In this paper I will introduce the significance of abortion in healthcare, ethical dilemmas associated with abortion, and ethical theories and principles that will support my two recommendations.

Abortion is a very important healthcare issue. Women obtain abortions for many different reasons: health issues, unwanted pregnancies, level of income, and other problems (Tong,2007a). The reasons some of these women have difficulty getting an abortion is because of their healthcare. The healthcare system makes it easy to receive prenatal care but close to impossible to get care for termination of pregnancy, which is forcing the women to choose to continue with the pregnancy even if it is not what they want (Tong, 2007a). Abortion is a significant issue in healthcare because healthcare affects a person’s decision on whether to go through a process. There are cases where women have become pregnant due to rape and have been denied termination of their pregnancy by the hospital. An estimate of 36 abortions/1,000 women occur each year in developing regions and 27 abortions/1,000 women in developed regions (Guttmacher Institute, 2016b). These statistics show the importance of abortion in healthcare, and that there must be something done so that abortion is more accessible to the women who need it. This topic has many differing views and it is very important to take into consideration all perspectives of the issue.

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There are many ethical dilemmas associated with electing to have an abortion. Terminating a pregnancy is a conflict between respecting the rights of the woman to privacy in deciding about her reproductive health and ensuring the safety and life of the fetus as a vulnerable population (Tong, 2007a). In addition, some religious teachings prohibit the termination of a pregnancy under any circumstance (Tong, 2007a). Religious practices and beliefs have limited some individuals in deciding whether to terminate their pregnancy. Some ethical issues that women consider in their choice to have an abortion include: personal health, financial circumstances, who has the authority to decide, the personal opinion of whether the mother or family is ready for a child, and the fetus health (Guttmacher Institute, 2016a). This topic is quite complex because women have the right to do what they want with their bodies and to do what is best for their health. There are also groups of people who advocate for the right of the fetus because it is unable to fend for itself (Tong, 2007a).

I chose this topic because I am interested about the debates going on today regarding abortion. I have heard many things about abortion in the news, not only concerning the United States, but also other countries who are stricter about their interpretation and opinions regarding abortion. There are many viewpoints that make this topic complicated, which makes it difficult to see which one is considered ethical. I believe that there is a long way to go to learn more about whether abortion should be accepted or not, and I am very excited to continue learning about it. I hope that by writing this paper, I will learn more about the process of abortion. In result, I will educate others about the importance of prevention concerning pregnancy and how to get the appropriate help.

One of the debates in abortion is who has the authority to determine to terminate or continue the pregnancy. I recommend that pregnancy termination should be a private decision made by the woman and others selected by her. This recommendation was articulated based upon consideration for the major tenet of Utilitarianism theory where happiness is the ultimate goal for everyone (Tong, 2007b). I will also use the principle of respect for autonomy because people have their own values and support from Callahan’s (1994) regarding private choice.

The ethical theory of utilitarianism is the belief that actions are right if they promote happiness to the greater number of people (Tong, 2007b). Utilitarians support the interest of the majority even if that affects the minority, which in this case the minority is the fetus. Utilitarians find it reasonable to decide if something is right or wrong if it brings pleasure to the greatest number of people. Utilitarians do not label an act as something right or wrong, they care about promoting happiness for the greater good, while considering the consequences for the basis of their decision (Tong, 2007b).

Considerations for the major tenets of utilitarianism led to developing my recommendation on women able to decide whether or not to obtain an abortion for an individual pregnancy. Granting a woman the right to privately choose whether to continue her pregnancy or terminate it would help women feel respect for decision about their individual health during their pregnancies knowing they have the right to choose what to do with it. The tenets of utilitarianism avoid the idea of when life begins, conception or beating of the heart, leaving the decision to the mother and what the consequences would be for her life if she were to continue or terminate the pregnancy. There are laws concerning abortion where people find ways to expand them if they do not promote their overall happiness while considering the consequences of that decision (Tong, 2007a-b). Granting this right to women results in the goal that the theory of utilitarianism wants to develop, which is promoting the happiness to the greater number of people, the woman and her family (Tong, 2007a-b).

Respect for autonomy is the guiding ethical principle for individual having the freedom to choose and implement their own decisions without coercion, so it is important to respect the autonomy of women (Tong, 2007b). Individuals have their own set of values and goals and should be able to communicate their final decision with others whom they have chosen. Respect for autonomy is important when it comes to healthcare because the woman has her own values and is given information concerning consequences that can develop from her decision (Tong, 2007b).

Respect for autonomy is the ethical principle that guided the development of the recommendation of the woman being able to choose whether they want to continue with their pregnancy. The woman who is pregnant should have the right to decide what she would like to do with the pregnancy even after being informed of the consequences that their actions will bring. If the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, she should not be prevented from proceeding with that decision. A woman has been given the right of life, but this does not mean the right to support someone else’s body. Women should be able to decide to get an abortion no matter their age, type of conception, or the health of the fetus. This idea is supported by the principle of respect for autonomy, giving the women the right to decide whether they want to continue their pregnancy or not (Tong, 2007a-b).

Callahan (1994) states that to provide a common good, private choice should be respected. An individual’s decision coupled with other individuals can shape our cultural institutions (Callahan,1994). The woman should be given the right to privately choose how to go about her pregnancy. In essence, Callahan emphasizes the importance of acknowledging respect for individual autonomy, and concern for the common good. Maintaining or terminating a pregnancy is a personal decision, the respect for the woman’s decision is more critical than any consideration for what is the good of all society.

I recommend that abortion should be a private decision made by the woman and others selected by her. My recommendation of the woman’s right to decide to continue or terminate her pregnancy was considered by the theory of utilitarianism and the principle of respect for autonomy. Now I will present an alternative recommendation to allow the reader the opportunity to have a complete understanding of this ethical issue.

My alternate recommendation is to ban abortion across all in the United States. I will discuss why abortion should not be considered an option for women. One reason for this recommendation is to allow the full potential of what the life of the fetus could be. Women should not have the right to decide whether or not this fetus gets to live. This recommendation was developed through consideration of the major tenets of the theory of deontology and the principle of justice. I will be taking consideration from Callahan (2000) discussion of Universalism and Particularism for my recommendation to ban abortion in all 50 states.

The ethical theory of Deontology is an ethical system that stresses the importance of following the rules (Tong, 2007b). This is different than utilitarianism that allows the sacrifice of one or more individuals to justify the happiness of one group (Tong, 2007b). Deontologists never treat an individual merely as a mean for someone else’s happiness. Deontology is considered a nonconsequential theory because they can follow the rules to determine right from wrong instead of basing it off the consequences that can come from the chosen option (Tong, 2007b). Deontologists believe that whatever the person chooses should benefit the individual rather than the majority. Deontologists believe an individual should not be sacrificed for another’s happiness (Tong, 2007b).

Deontologists feel that abortion is like treating the fetus as a tenant in the woman’s body and putting more value in the life of the woman than the fetus who can not speak for itself (Tong, 2007b). A woman should not be able to ask for an abortion because this would prevent the full potential of the fetus and its future once birthed. Women request having an abortion to end the life of the fetus to gain back control of their own bodies for either medical or other personal reasons. The choice to terminate a pregnancy benefits the person requesting the abortion, in this case the pregnant woman. The women’s families and friends have to endure the financial and emotional burden of losing a baby. Society has lost someone that could have been an active member. In accordance to the theory of deontology, women should not sacrifice their fetus for the women’s own sake.

Consideration for the principle of justice guided development of my alternative recommendation. It is unjust to treat one individual better than another individual in the same circumstance. The ethical principle of justice concerning health care is knowing an individual is treated fairly to others. The principle of justice comes with its burdens and benefits that individuals believe should be distributed equally among everyone involved.

Justice is as important as healthcare providers are taking into consideration an individual’s autonomy. Health care providers should consider how treating the woman for her abortion could have an impact on the life of the fetus. Treating a woman for the abortion if prioritizing the woman over the fetus (Tong, 2007a). Abortion is not equally available for the majority of the population which means only a small number can receive this care. This concern of availability of getting an abortion violates the principle of justice, which supports my alternative recommendation of banning abortion across all states.

The ethical tenets of Universalism by Callahan (2000) guided the development of the alternative recommendation to ban abortion in all 50 states. Universalism is universally applicable, detached from individual self-interest and not specific to a culture or time (Callahan, 2000). On the other hand, Particularism is an ethical perspective in which the differing values and morals among all cultures are respected. Particularism would respect the differing views of abortion according to the culture and religious affiliations (Callahan, 2000). My alternative recommendation to ban abortion in all 50 states is guided by a universalistic perspective which emphasizes the importance and value of life which is beneficial and just for most of the people in most of the situations, most of the time (Callahan, 2000).

In this paper, I have defined abortion and discussed ethical dilemmas. I offered a recommendation to allow the private choice for women to decide to obtain an abortion and supported it with the ethical theory of utilitarianism and the principle of respect for autonomy. I then proposed an alternative recommendation to ban abortion in all 50 states which I supported with the theory of deontology and the principle of justice. I also incorporated Callahan (1994 and 2000) to discuss all aspects or premises of the common good and universalism. After reviewing all the information presented, implementing the recommendation of the respect of the women’s autonomy would be for the common good. It gives the choice to the women the privacy to choose what they want to do with their body when it comes to pregnancy. Society must understand that sometimes the termination of a pregnancy must be done to improve the quality of life of the individual, even if it means prioritizing one life over another.  


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