The Study of Ethics

Topics: Abortion, Pregnancy, Human Pages: 5 (1991 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Examine and comment on the view that the religious and/or moral principles provide essential guidelines for medical ethics, with reference to the topic you have investigated. The principle of sanctity of life should always be considered as first priority in medical ethics, especially in abortion – the topic which I have chosen to investigate – which deals with the life and death of the unborn child that, arguably God only has the right to end. The principle of sanctity of life is the idea that all human life is of equal intrinsic value, except in cases of legitimate defence of others’ lives is it always intrinsically wrong to take human life. This principle therefore defines abortion as an immoral act, because it is an act of destroying human life. Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, the termination of a pregnancy is the removal of embryos or foetuses from within the womb. Abortion in England, Wales and Scotland is governed by the Abortion Act 1967, which came about due to the high rates of backstreet abortion in the 1960s. Backstreet abortion is one of the many ambiguous terms that are used to define unsafe abortions, which deals with the termination of an unwanted pregnancy by people that perhaps lack the necessary skills and technical equipment to carry out abortion.The Abort Act of 1967 states that two registered doctors must reach the same conclusion and agree to carry out the abortion in good faith. An example of some of the conditions to reach in order for abortion to be carried out are as follows: the termination may be necessary to prevent major permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother; or that the continuation of the pregnancy would result in the child being born with physical or mental abnormalities which can cause serious handicaps for the child. Prior to 1967 the Courts permitted abortion where the mother's life was in danger. This is still the position in Northern Ireland. The Abortion Act 1967 was not extended to Northern Ireland as their law on abortion is based on the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act 1861. The Offences Against the Persons Act states that the unborn children is not capable of being born alive therefore abortion is not accepted, however, some people argued that in a particular circumstance i.e. rape, abortion would not be unlawful since the continuation of the pregnancy would severely affect the mother’s mental health and this in turn would reduce the significance of their quality of life. The Criminal Justice Act 1945; this section provides a defense of acting in good faith to preserve the life of the mother. As laws on abortion varies internationally so do the abortion methods, there are many different practices of abortion that are used throughout the years and some methods may be more favoured in some countries in comparison to others. Doctors that are either administrating the abortion or giving advice about abortion must act in accordance with the law of the country they are practicing in. There are three main abortion methods; early chemical abortion; vacuum aspiration; and surgical dilation and evacuation which is commonly the abortion method used in the later stages of pregnancy. An early abortion involves two different medicines that must be taken 48 hours apart. An abortion pill called mifepristone will be given first, the second, prostoglandin must then be consumed two days after. Cramps, irritation and bleeding are symptoms that might occur after consuming the mifepristone and heavier bleeding will follow after the consumption of the prostoglandin. Vacuum aspiration or suction termination is a procedure that uses gentle suction to remove the foetus from the womb. The procedure usually takes 5-10 minutes and can be carried out under a local anesthetic or general anesthetic. Women may experience bleeding for up to 14 days after the procedure. Surgical dilation and evacuation (late abortion or D&E) is a...
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