Nursing and Ethics the Emotional Debate Over Term Paper

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Nursing and Ethics

The emotional debate over abortion had been mischaracterized in the media, and hence disrupted any positive attempt to make progress in resolving the ethical and medical problems which have been created by the practice. A majority of Americans recognize and desire that abortion should be available when the life of the mother is at risk, or in the cases of rape or incest. However, liberal proponets like to expand this definition under the ubiquitous definition of the 'mothers health' which has been used to justify abortion on demand, for any reason. This latter expanded definition is significantly opposed by a majority of the ameircan population. In the midst of this struggle, comes the person needing medical care, who has neither been properly informed as to the dangers of the paractive, nor adequately counseled as to the options which exist regarding the future of her unborn child. The public discourse needs to move away from defending political strongholds, and toward informing and providing healthy, and safe options for the patients.

Utilitarian: Unfortunatley, a patient who is considering suicide may be pushed over the edge if the idea is discussed in utilitarian ideology. His or her life will be unconsciously measured against the 'value' which he or she provides, and often, the suicidal person feels that he has no value.

Kantian: The suicidal person who is comforted through Kantian philosophy would hear that he or she is a part of a world that has nothing beyond what is observed. The person thus would suffer no eternal consequences if he took his life, rather he may be obtaining the end of his suffering.

Rawlsian: Often the suicidal person is feeling hopeless, especially a person in a hospice, who has no one to care for them. Rawlsian philosophy would guarantee that resources would be redistributed to guarantee that the person would be taken care of regardless of their ability.

Prima Facia: Prima fascia reasoning goes to the prime, or core of the person's value, and therefore the suicidal person would be told that their life matters, and that suicide is a step that would take away an important person from the world.

Determining when a person 'should be allowed to die' is currently in a flux of conflicting ethics in the medical field.

The person's value as a person, and the doctors oath to heal are often counterbalanced by the cost of progressive medical treatment, plus factors which influence the 'quality of life' of the individual. Ethics committees must develop clear guidelines for medical staff to follow so that doctors can focus on their jobs of administering treatment, and have clear guidelines as to the point at which continued treatment should be balanced against allowing the persons condition to progress naturally toward death.

Using drugs to monitor the effects of pain is radically different from using drugs to kill a person. Drug use to monitor pain may be a necessary step in the healing process. Drug use to monitor pain is a merciful, and humane aspect of modern treatment. However, taking a person's life by using drugs is no longer an act of mercy and help, but it is taking the person's life. The line is crossed from healing to harming.

A) A medical practioner who has a contagious disease of any kind should be limited to the amount of interaction and treatment which he or she can provide to patients. Very few patients would want to have a dentist working on a root canal while affected by the flu, sneezing and coughing in the patents face. While HIV is not directly contagious from skin contact, the severity of the disease should be recognized as creating a special case for medical practicioners. In my opinion, a dentist, Dr., or nurse does not have the responsibility to disclose his condition to his patients. He has the responsibility to exit the field, and find a line of work which does not put others directly at risk.

B) in the case of the practitioner who remains in the field, he or she should notify his patients of his condition, and allow the patient the choice of continued treatment in the doctors care. This could be done with a minimal amount of persuasion, but should be presented in an unemotional, and open handed manner so that the person can make an informed decision which the patient is comfortable with.

The likelihood of risk is not the only factor to consider when warning a person about impending problems. The person also needs to be aware of the consequences, or severity of harm which could come his or her way. The person also should be made aware of, it the threat of harm comes toward them, what can they do to ward off the impending harm. Every person who enters an automobile is award of the potential harm, as is a person who flies in a commercial airliner. The person may or may not be able to ward off the pending injury. However, in the event of Aids transmission the person cannot see it coming, nor can he have any control over the impending transmission of the disease, other than take himself out of the situation. Thus, the factors involved are greater in the case of AIDS transmission, and the patient should be notified.

The case of patient conficentiality has always been thorny when dealing with a situation which can result in harm to an innocent third party. Priests have had to wrestle with the ethics of this kind of decision each time they sit in a confessional, and hear of self-destructive or harmful behavior directed toward others from the other side of the screen. While the confidentialiy and trust of the client - practitioner must be maintained, I believe that ethical consirations should be addressed in regard to keeping information private which could put others in lethal harms way.

The problem of using fetal tissue from abortions in research is not so much a problem of consent of the fetus, but rather the demand which is created by such activity. When a market-based demand is created by making fetal tissue available, tissue which is only available as the result of an abortion, the act of the abortion becomes more justifiable, and in higher demand. The heart of this issue is the constitutional rights of the individual child, and how the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should affect our national policy on abortion.

If abortion is an immoral act, than making use of any materials created through abortion is also immoral. If abortion is moral and just, because the child is not yet a child, then the consent issue falls to the mother, who can or cannot give consent.

The decision to end one's life not only affects one's own well-being, but anyone one relationship with him. A person should consider himself morally obligated to discuss his plans for the last weeks / months of his life with others around them. The transigion from life to death is traumatic for the entire family, and therefore any preparation which can occur between the affected parties is of material and moral benefit to all the parities involved.

A person's desire for specific medical care, if not contained in a legal document, but which is still clearly communicated to individuals or medical practitioners should be considered of no less moral force just because it is not in legal form. However, in the transaction of the medical care, the absence of legal documents can make the legal case less clear. When the legality of issues become involved, and medical professionals have to take into consideration their own protection, decisions can revert to the legal issues, rather than moral. Often the legality of decisions must be taken into consideration, which can often override what individuals feel are the moral boundaries of the decisions to be made.

Personal consent to a prodecure is a verbal agreement of one person to another. The consent is based on the integrity, and intellectual soundness of the individuals involved in the agreement. Proxy consent occurs when the person receiving treatment cannot give personal, or informed consent, and another person stands in proxy for the patient and gives consent for procedures.

1. Ethics committees should devote activity to self-education. If the committee is to sponsor education and consultation in accord with accepted ethical principles, then the committee must be knowledgeable about the principles in question. Common sense does not always apply in the place of sound ethical decision making. 2. While membership of the ethics committee need not include people "from all walks of life." membership of "outsiders" on ethics committees is recommended, so that the ethical decisions in medicine will be based upon public opinion rather than upon only accepted ethical principles, the knowledge of medical practice, and the occurrence of medical costs. Therefore the purpose of the ethics committee is to weigh the decision making process, and help individual medical practitioners and…

Sources Used in Document:


O'rourke, Kevin. PROXY CONSENT: DECIDING FOR OTHERS October 1980 accessed 23 April 2004. Available from:

Bernard Lo, (July 2, 1987) "Behind Closed Doors: Promises and Pitfalls of Ethics Committees." NEJM 317;46.

Toward a More Natural Science, (1985) New York: Free Press,; p.211.

Curzer, Howard J. (6/22/1993) Fry's concept of care in nursing ethics. (response to Sara T. Fry, Hypatia, vol. 4, no.2, p.88, 1989) Hypatia.

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