Abortion, the intentional termination of a pregnancy through surgical or medical devices, was legalized in 1973. This issue of abortion has caused a great segregation in our country. Often the debate is thought to be conservative versus liberal, republican versus democrat, but more accurately it is pro-life versus pro choice. A pro-life stance opposes the belief that a woman should have the freedom to choose an abortion in the case that for any reason she does not want to have a baby. Pro-choice takes the opposite stance; pro-choice is a belief that a women should have the autonomy to chose an abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy (Freesearch, 2005). Difficult questions get thrown around between the two views. Where does life begin? Should a woman have complete autonomy over her healthcare decision involving her body? What about in the case of disease and rape, are we more concerned with the wellbeing of the mother or the fetus? Issues such as nonmaleficience and beneficence, justice, autonomy, and quality of life come into play. Should we as healthcare professionals, deliberately cause harm to a fetus to maintain the autonomy of the mother? Is it just to deny complete autonomy to the mother while simultaneously denying justice and autonomy to a potential life? From a virtue ethical prospective, the answers to the difficult questions and actions taken depend on the innate moral values of the individual. For example, a Christian would derive their moral values from the Bible which describes life as preconceived before physical birth; whereas, an atheist would be more likely to believe happiness for the greatest number is the ultimate goal (utilitarianism). Since abortion is viewed as such a morality issue, controversies arise between people with different moral codes.
As a potential healthcare professional, I realize I will be bombarded with patients considering abortions and those who have previously had one. I must know where my position, so when I am approached with the issue I can properly educate my patient while not compromising my values. As a Christian, my foundation comes from the Bible. Jeremiah 1:4-5 proclaims, "I (God) knew you before you were formed within your mother's womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world." Here God clearly states that He knew Jeremiah, the unborn, before he was conceived and had a purpose for him. A prominent question in this ethical dilemma is "Is this life preconceived?" And if it is, "Do we have the autonomy to terminate this potential being?"
A pro-choice stance supports the women's complete autonomy in her healthcare. They believe that life does not begin with the fertilization of an egg, but instead the most widely held view is that life begins at viability, the point at which a fetus has a living chance of surviving without being attached to the mother. Since the unborn fetus is not a living being, instead it is simply a mass of tissue that is part of a women's body, abortion is just an autonomous healthcare decision of a women (Prochoice.com, 2004). By taking away the freedom to have an abortion, you are stripping women of complete autonomy in health care. What happens in the case of rape? A rape victim did not actively choose to become pregnant. Pro-choice advocates argue that we should not force a woman to live with the consequence of an act of violence; this would be unjust towards the mother. Furthermore, not only the mother may suffer, a child brought into this world as a result of rape or a mistake young girl with no means to raise a child will compromise the quality of life not only for the mother, but also for the child. Where is the justice in bringing a child into the world destined for a poor quality of life? Pro-choice supporters should not be mistaken for pro-abortion. They do not encourage abortions as a type of birth control. The do endorse sex education in schools as well as providing affordable...
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