Biomedical Ethics Term Paper

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ethics of abortion. The writer takes one case of a requested abortion and explores its ethical possibilities. The writer uses several cases to argue that this case is ethically sound for the performance of an abortion. There was one source used to complete this paper.

Abortion has always been a very sensitive issue. Most of the nation is divided into two camps, pro-choice, and pro-life. Those who are in the pro-choice camp believe that abortion is the choice of the woman because it is her body and her life that will be forever altered by having a baby. Those that are pro-life believe it is the killing of a child and should never be done. Abortion has held its position as one of the most heated and emotional topics in the country for many years. For pro-choice and pro-life advocates most cases are clearly cut and dry as to their belief about the ethics in the case. In some cases however it is not as clear and the decision to perform an abortion has to rest on the ethical conscious of the health care professional.

One hypothetical case involves a physician who is presented with an adult patient who is requesting an abortion. She does not have any pressing medical validation for asking, such as birth will risk her life or an organ system's life. She asks for the abortion based on the decision on Doe v. Bolton and other cases because she says that her broad-based health will be compromised if she is forced to go through with the pregnancy and birth. Her contention is that the birth and raising of a child will present serious financial and emotional consequences for her. Because of the points that she raises it would be ethical to perform an abortion on this patient. She has valid and strong arguments if the criteria is simply that refusing an abortion would cause the patient serious health issues. In fact such reasoning actually makes it ethical to perform all abortions requested if the patient believes carrying the child to term would have a seriously negative impact on their life.

One of the strongest arguments in support of this case and the ethical rightness of performing an abortion is the case of Doe v. Bolton. That case paved the way for the later famous Roe v Wade decision as well.

Before one can determine the ethics that stem from the Doe v. Bolton decision it is important for one to understand what happened in that case and how the decision changed the face of abortion ethics for the state's physicians and patients. The decision was handed down in December of 1971 and was argued a second time and upheld in October of 1972(U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

410 U.S. 179 (

Georgia law proscribes an abortion except as performed by a duly licensed Georgia physician when necessary in "his best clinical judgment" because continued pregnancy would endanger a pregnant woman's life or injure her health; the fetus would likely be born with a serious defect; or the pregnancy resulted from rape. 26-1202 (a) of Ga. Criminal Code (U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

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The above ruling appears on the first pass to narrow the field in who can get abortions and who cannot but in actuality it opens the door for future abortions based on the health of the patient now and in the future. The decision was about a patient who wanted to get an abortion and was told she could not because she had no real risk for carrying the baby full term.

In addition to a requirement that the patient be a Georgia resident and certain other requirements, the statutory scheme poses three procedural conditions in 26-1202 (b): (1) that the abortion be performed in a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH); (2) that the procedure be approved by the hospital staff abortion committee; and (3) that the performing physician's judgment be confirmed by independent examinations of the patient by two other licensed physicians. Appellant Doe, an indigent married Georgia citizen, who was denied an abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy for failure to meet any of the 26-1202 (a) conditions, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, contending that the Georgia laws were unconstitutional (U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

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This patient was joined in her complaint by many Georgia doctors who said the statute impeded their ability to practice medicine on their patients. The decision referred to several factors in how it was reached including the following:

3. The requirement that a physician's decision to perform an abortion must rest upon "his best clinical judgment" of its necessity is not unconstitutionally vague, since that judgment may be made in the light of all the attendant circumstances. United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62, 71-72. Pp. 191-192(U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

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The above statement is exactly what gives the patient a right to have an abortion. The decision provides the clinician with the ability to determine what health effects will or may occur if the abortion is refused.

Many women suffer from depression. If an unwanted pregnancy is in the picture depression can occur. Depression can affect many aspects of the patient's life including the ability to eat, sleep and function. Now the decision in this and future causes discuss the health of the baby. According to this decision an abortion can be performed if carrying the child full term may cause the baby to be born with sever problems or handicaps. If someone is depressed about being pregnant and they are refused an abortion based on ethics it may cause them to do harmful things to their body. They may stop eating correctly, or they may begin or continue to take illegal drugs or drink to excess. In addition they may ingest things that are not healthy or conducive for the baby to thrive in the womb. All of the above are things that can easily happen if one is depressed about a pending and unwanted childbirth. If these things are done the baby will not be able to thrive in the womb properly and there is a valid chance that the baby will be born with severe impairments of handicaps.

The statue is written for the purpose of stopping abortions except in extreme cases but actually provides the clinician with the ability to perform them anytime the patient is adamant in the desire to acquire one.

Section 26-1201, with a referenced exception, makes abortion a crime, and 26-1203 provides that a person convicted of that crime shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 10 years. Section 26-1202 (a) states the exception and removes from 1201's definition of criminal abortion, and thus makes noncriminal, an abortion "performed by a physician duly licensed" in Georgia when, "based upon his best clinical judgment... An abortion is necessary because (U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

410 U.S. 179 (

1) A continuation of the pregnancy would endanger the life of the pregnant woman or would seriously and permanently injure her health; or 2) The fetus would very likely be born with a grave, permanent, and irremediable mental or physical defect; or 3) The pregnancy resulted from forcible or statutory rape (U.S. Supreme Court DOE v. BOLTON, 410 U.S. 179 (1973)

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The instance labeled (2) above is where the mental state of the pregnant woman comes into play. If she fails to eat right, or she ingests drugs and alcohol because of her depression about not being allowed to terminate the pregnancy, then number 2 above may well become the case. This means that the doctor is within his or her ethical rights to perform an abortion on the patient who says that they do not want to remain pregnant.

The first element of the above also gives rise to the ethical ability for a doctor to perform an abortion. The patient may indicate that the future would be so difficult for her that she may consider suicide as an alternative to carrying the baby full term. Even if this is not said out loud, any woman who is adamant about wanting an abortion, as is the situation in this case, may indeed become harmful to herself or her child after the pregnancy is completed. Because the woman in this case has indicated that her financial situation will be worsened and she wants an abortion based on the things mentioned in this ruling, she is giving rise to the possibility that to carry this baby to term will affect her mentally and emotionally to the point of endangering herself or her child.

The fact that this patient named the Doe case is an indicator of her…

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