Philosophy -- Medical Ethics Issues Essay

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That may be particularly true in contemporary American society where the cumulative costs associated with healthcare could potentially bankrupt the nation (and/or bankrupt many individuals and families) by virtue of the ever-increasing costs generally attributable to the very flawed third-party payer system in which most medical services are furnished through for-profit health insurance companies with much of the remainder funded by the funds and other resources of federal and state budgets.

In that respect, universal healthcare through government-provided healthcare services might be thought of as a right, to the extent it evolves as a means of ensuring that the American economy is not threatened by ever-increasing costs associated with a for-profit third party payer health insurance system.

Ultimately, any right to healthcare in the U.S. would be predicated on the principle of equal rights and equal opportunity established by the U.S. Constitution and other laws designed to protect the concepts of civil rights and social equality. There is not necessarily any pre-existing right to healthcare; there is only a right to the same benefits as are available to others in society and against discrimination in access to healthcare that is available to others through the government.

4) Analyze an argument in favor of abortion. Analyze an argument against abortion. Cite the benefits and limitations of each argument.

The argument for reproductive rights (i.e. abortion and birth control) is predicated on the fundamental concept of individual autonomy (Vaughn, 2009). In that regard, there is no legitimate basis for interfering with the private decision of a woman to prevent pregnancy or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy after inception. According to that point-of-view, a woman has the autonomous right to make medical decisions that only affect her and there is no legitimate basis for prohibiting the decision to prevent or terminate pregnancy that justifies overriding her autonomous right. The contrary argument (against abortion rights in particular) is that a woman may have an autonomous right to make medical decisions that affect nobody else but the decision to terminate a pregnancy necessarily affects the fetus as well. According to that point-of-view, the woman's right to autonomy (reproductive autonomy or otherwise) ends where the corresponding rights of the unborn fetus begin (Vaughn, 2009).

Both positions have merit. Undoubtedly, there is a period during human gestation where the fertilized ovum (or "zygote") cannot reasonably or objectively be said to have any autonomous rights simply because it does not yet possess any of the characteristics of a human being other than in its genetic code (Vaughn, 2009). On the other hand, there is also undoubtedly a period of human gestation where the fetus is sufficiently developed to have its rights recognized just the same as those of any other person or infant. It is very difficult to justify protecting the "rights" of a centimeter-sized human zygote fertilized only days (or hours) earlier simply because it has the potential to develop into a fully formed human being. However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, there must be some limitation to the autonomous rights of the woman who wishes (for the sake of example) to abort a fetus one day before full-term delivery.

In principle, the moral absolutism approach would either prohibit all abortions (including hours after conception) and even abortions that are medically necessary to save the mother's life. Meanwhile, the moral relativism approach could either allow or prohibit all abortions regardless of extremely relevant factors. In fact, only the moral objectivist approach provides a means of reconciling the respective rights of the woman and of the unborn fetus. More specifically, moral objectivism as applied to the abortion issue involves identifying objectively valid criteria and circumstances that can be used to determine whether to err on the side of the autonomous right of the woman to decide medical issues or on the side of the rights of the unborn fetus to live.

The most relevant factors in that analysis would be the degree of fetal development, sentient ability, and the medical consequences to the mother. In that regard, medical necessity for the life or well-being of the mother would be a valid objective criterion to justify abortion in almost any circumstance (Vaughn, 2009). Likewise, the fact that the fetus is sufficiently developed to sense pain or to survive outside of the mother's body are relevant factors that justify recognizing certain fundamental rights of unborn individuals that outweigh the respective importance of the mother's autonomous rights to make decisions about her medical care.

As long as the basis of moral decisions about abortion reflect the analysis of objective criteria, abortion may be ethically justified in some situations but not in others. The fundamental problem with the anti-abortion position in U.S. is its direct connection to religious beliefs about when life begins. Unlike fetal sentience and viability, religious definitions are not objective criteria and, therefore, have no place in…

Sources Used in Document:

Sources Cited

Vaughn, Lewis. Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases. Oxford University

Press. 2009.

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