Topics: Abortion, Abortion law, Abortion debate Pages: 26 (7197 words) Published: March 15, 2015

Abortion: Exploring the Ethical, Legal and Political Challenges

Word Count: 3459
Discipline: General Nursing

Table of Contents
Abortion: Exploring the Ethical, Legal and Political Challenges1 Abstract:3
Abortion and the Irish legal system:4
Abortion: A topic fraught with complexity.5
Balancing Constitutional Rights; Is ‘Equal’ right to life realistic?5 A matter for human rights?6
The nature or personhood of the ‘Unborn’7
Distinguishing between abortion and medical termination8
The Political Debate9
Conceptual Model9
Savita- To legislate or not to legislate?10
The Medical Voice11
In Conclusion: Judgement Calls or Legislation?12
Appendix A: Irish Cases of Interest with pivotal outcomes14 The X Case (1992)14
A, B C vs. Ireland (2005)14
Savita Halappanavar Case November (2012)14
Appendix B: Irish Law and the Constitutional Changes.15
The offences against the person act (1861)15
The Eight Amendment (1983)15
The Twelfth Amendment (1992)15
The Thirteenth Amendment (1992)15
The Fourteenth Amendment (1992)15
Twenty-fifth Amendment (2002)15
Appendix C: A brief Overview of Cultural variance and Abortion16 Appendix D: A Clinical Experience17
Reference list:19

Ethical, legal and political challenges are embedded in nursing practice and inform clinical decisions. Abortion is an example of a complex contemporary issue where balancing the wellbeing of both the mother and the unborn has prompted considerable international discourse. This paper explores the issue of abortion and its ethical, legal and political significance regarding public health. The search strategy employed explored evidence from international databases, political input from various media as well as Case analyses. The implications and subsequent recommendations are discussed. Abortion remains a controversial and divisive human issue. Ambiguity surrounds the concept of personhood and the inception of human life. The imposition of the eight Constitutional amendment and the lack direction on the precise application of the X judgement requires clarity. The right to life of the woman and the unborn continues to lie in tension. The abortion issue encapsulates ethical, political and legal factors in clinical decision making. Although the law may set out a legislative framework, it is impossible to legislate for every eventuality. Test cases will illustrate the application of new legislation. Ultimately the abortion debate requires a balance between legislation and clinical governance. Keywords:

Clinical dilemmas, abortion, right to life, personhood, public health.

The world of nursing is fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas where legislation may be outdated or unclear making clinical decisions extremely difficult (Tingle and Mc Hale 2009). ‘Sitting on the fence’ however is not an option and omission will also produce an outcome which could lawfully be considered an actus reus or wrongful act (Van Dokkum 2011). Often the healthcare professional (HCP) must act where outcomes may be unclear or unfavourable creating a crisis of conscience. Occasionally unfortunate outcomes may attract media attention, public outcry and heated political debate. This is evident in the Savita Halappanavar Case (2012) into which there is currently an inquiry (Appendix A). The purpose of this piece of work is to explore the relevance of ethical, legal and political factors in influencing practice through specific reference to the issue of abortion in Ireland. Abortion and the Irish legal system:

In contemporary times healthcare issues concerning care delivery are ‘rarely far from the headlines’ and with the role of the nurse becoming ever more expanded in nature it is a prerequisite that we understand our legal obligations and are ‘individually accountable through the law to our patients’ (Tingle and McHale 2009, p38). The primary function of...
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