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The medical ethical legal issues surrounding Abortion

Professional Practice- Uruk

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In this essay I will be going through the positive and
negative points of abortion and the medical ethical issues linked to it. Ethics
play a huge role in the life of a doctor, as it is the practical pursuit to it.
For years this subject has been an issue in many countries around the world. Different
communities and governments around the world argue whether or not this
procedure is appropriate for women to do.” It
is firmly established in law and ethics that a competent patient can refuse any
treatment whatever, for any reason. “(Mason & McCall Smith 1999 Law and
medical ethics). In the UK, abortion was validated by the Abortion Act in
1967, which then became a law in April 1968. Over the years people have
demanded for the law to be reshaped and reformed to accumulate the current
circumstances of the 21st century. The country has witnessed 5
million successful and safe abortions across women in Britain, which have
benefited greatly from it (2001Journal of
Medical Ethic). It is important as a clinical professional to have skills
and qualities that not only were obtained by a degree, but also qualities that
involve more social depth and understanding. For example, autonomy, justice,
privacy and respect. Many health care environments lack staff with these
important factors, and those then eventually lead to much more serious problems
involving the law.

To begin with, the journey of carrying a child always has
an unknown beginning to it. This means in reality that not every woman actually
chooses to become pregnant. In more detail, some could be victims of rape, sex
trafficking without having the safe and right methods of contraception and many
other circumstances that may result in sometimes an ‘unwanted pregnancy’. These
conditions that a patient might have faced, which could be around any age as
young as 13 years old, can affect a person more than just physically, but mentally
and emotionally too. Society is a big aspect of anyone’s social life, whether
they are doctors or simply students in primary school. Each person interprets
and perceives opinions of others and situations differently, so it is easier
and quicker to assume rather than taking the time to understand the patient.
When patients are as young as preteens, which is reported in many financially and
educationally deprived areas of countries, then this procedure should definitely
not be thought easily off. This is because the patient in cases such as these
has not even developed physically fully still, yet their pregnancy is in most
cases regarded ‘unsuitable’ and mostly life threatening.

As a clinical professional, it is vital that all these
factors are considered before carrying out a treatment that is suitable. Some
patients think of their unborn baby as an opportunity for a ‘better life’,
‘hope’ and ‘destiny’. To be someone that crushes or simply determines to do so,
can be regarded as an offence to a patient and can be taken further depending
on the law of the country they’re in. There are other cases also, that
unfortunately do not end in a happy ending as expected. Some abortions do not
end as a happy ending, as sometimes it can cause the mother to bleed
excessively and die shortly after that. In some cases this can be a cause of ignoring
the patient’s health and consequences, others could be by less professional
doctors which thin that they can abort a child at any stage of development.
They are less aware of the fact that abortion has a certain limit due to the
physiological and mental effect on the patient. There is a limit to the age of
the developing unborn baby which is that the foetus must be less than 24 weeks,
this is because a woman can develop negative side effects later on. Performing early
abortions were proven clinically and theoretically by many experts to have more
positive consequences on the women that have the procedure done.

The point mentioned above takes us to a more spiritual
side of the argument. Some minorities in certain religions believe that
abortion is a crime committed against the rulings of ‘God’, in this case the
issue becomes more complex and results in large unsolved problems worldwide.
For example, in the Church of England, they believe that there has to be certain
circumstances that can alter the decision to have the procedure done. In other
words, if the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life then it can be done.  (Church
of England General Synod 1983) On the other hand, the Roman Catholics
believe that human life begins when the ‘egg’ is fertilised by the ‘sperm’. In
a case where a doctor must handle a patient with certain restrictions such as
the ones mentioned above, it is highly important that the medical professional
shows respect, and pay careful attention to the patient.  In a situation that the doctor knows and is
sure that the pregnancy will cause the health of the woman to deteriorate, then
there still has to be a suitable and fair way of resolving the situation. This
then brings in the point of taking consent from the patient before performing
the procedure, otherwise is just like committing an assault or battery. This is
an example of autonomy. (Kumar &
Clark’s, Clinical medicine, Elsevier 2012, eighth edition p.3) This should
be carried out without any pressure and persuasion.

Furthermore, once abortion is agreed upon, there can be a
whole side of positivity, if we look at the benefits of abortion, we can see
that it prevents as we said negative consequences later. For example, the
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada states that ovulation in the
women’s reproductive system can happen as soon as 8 days after starting the medical
abortion procedure, also “Severe complications following medical abortion are
rare” (The society of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists of Canada 2016). This is clear evidence that supports the
argument for abortions worldwide.

Information like this can impact people on a large scale,
as doctors are a respected part of society that many of us trust to hand our
health to. When research is conducted and answers are proven, it gives patients
reassurance and makes the ones who have refused a chance to think twice about
their decision. When patients come from a deprived background, it is important
to crucial to understand first of all what they are deprived off, such as education
regarding pregnancy. It is of course very difficult to decide without the
consent of patients with backgrounds like that because doctors would be stuck
between life threatening situations at times, such as with child pregnancies.
In this case it is important to consider asking the opinion of another medical
specialist. Also, parents of children in special cases like the ones mentioned
previously, must also be consented, if they have the capacity to do so. “The assessment of capacity is a significant
undertaking: a freedom to choose depends on it. If a person lacks capacity,
then it is meaningless to seek consent.” (Kumar & Clarks Clinical Medicine)
 Also, in certain conditions, it is
recognisable that the foetus is not in good health and may develop several difficulties
after birth that will impact the child itself and its parents negatively. For
example the baby might have a short life ahead and will instead cause grief for
those expecting it. When the parents, mainly the woman agrees to abort the
child, this will not only remove future possible obstacles, but also provide
her with new opportunities and better chances with the next child to come.

In conclusion, as I have thoroughly explained the
different aspects above, I personally believe that everyone’s health should be
put first but abortion should be carried out by adhering appropriate laws and be
viewed from different angles in depth before taking any decisions. This
procedure is highly sensitive, especially from the woman’s perspective, as you may
not always know the conditions they have been through before they are seated in
the ‘patient seat’. Some may have struggled terribly to be able to receive
medical attention and advice for their pregnancy. Therefore it is a must to
take full consent before undertaking any procedure, to respect the individual’s
privacy after the decision and take into consideration the opinion of the
patient. Medical and ethical issues will always be like a type of ‘fence’ before
medical procedures, and can always be dealt with smoothly and correctly if the
professionals chose to deal with the matter fairly under the guidelines of
medical ethics and with full cooperation of the patient at all times. This
includes a balance of human rights and medical ethical laws.


Abortion Act 1967

Practical Resuscitation, Recognition and
Response 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd (Book)

Clinical skills for Healthcare assistants
(Text book) , Willey Blackwell Paula ingram and Irene Lavery

Church of England ,
view of abortion 1983



Oxford Journal of Legal






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