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Various social problems that periodically arise in the society, as a rule, are reflected in state laws as the government usually takes appropriate measures to solve a particular issue. However, when it is about the problems of ethics and, in particular, the medical field, the situation is complicated by the fact that not legal but solely moral concepts play a key role. Certainly, many public issues related to the field of medicine are solved at the state level and are discussed during politicians’ meetings. Nevertheless, some topics are still controversial and quite often cause a wide public response. One of these themes is terminating the pregnancy, which is usually called an abortion. This issue is frequently raised in the society, and the subjects of discussion are both the initiators of this procedure and medical representatives who provide such services. One of the reasons why women of different ages decide to terminate their pregnancy is any genetic disease of the fetus and the risk of having an unhealthy child. Therefore, it is essential to describe possible results and consequences of such a procedure for women themselves and mention what ethical issues it affects.
The case under analysis occurred in 2011. Suzanne and her husband were looking forward to the birth of a second child. They assumed that it would be a boy and even called him Oscar. However, their dreams did not come true; on the fifteenth week, the child was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, and the woman was immediately informed about it. According to Suzanne, the step to terminate her pregnancy was very difficult for them, but they considered this decision to be the only correct one since they saved both their future child and themselves from suffering (Treussard, 2014). This incident received some resonance as it became public.
Nevertheless, it is rather difficult to try to condemn the woman and her husband in the fact that they committed murder and abandoned the fetus for some unclear reasons. The procedure of terminating the pregnancy was legal, the doctors performed the operation as quickly and qualitatively as possible, and the woman was not injured. Perhaps, many opponents of abortions were against this method and condemned Suzanne and her husband. However, if it is a question of such an intimate problem, it is significant for a family to endure such a test and take the decision that it considers necessary. In the case of Suzanne and her husband, no laws were violated. The abortion was carried out on the fifteenth week, which does not contradict any ethical standards.
The case described is a very vivid example of how a genetic disorder can affect the choice of future parents. Today, quite a few people decide to keep children with any serious health problems. However, it is rather difficult to blame those who decide to have an abortion. This procedure should be strictly individual, and if a woman has sufficient grounds, no one has the right to stop her. Nevertheless, current practice shows that an increasing number of countries are against abortions, and both women themselves and medical providers that perform these procedures are persecuted by some people. Moreover, there is a tendency to ban abortions at the state level, and such practice exists in some countries. Therefore, it is important to consider what consequences such operations will have for not only women but also for doctors and their managers.
Possible Outcomes and Implications for Healthcare Providers
One of the primary reasons why medical workers can be prosecuted is performing an abortion if there is a complete or partial ban on such procedure in the country. A complete prohibition implies that there is no possibility of performing an abortion at the patient’s request. Partial prohibition implies the possibility of terminating the pregnancy with the consent of interested parties or in accordance with pre-determined causes, for example, if the patient is a minor.
Apparently, the case of Suzanne was completely legal and legitimate. The possibility of terminating her pregnancy is allowed when families have good reasons for it. The case ended well for the woman, and she had no problems with her health. However, in case of any complications and serious problems, doctors would be the first to experience public anger and possibly even threats. An error in this sphere of work is unacceptable, and medical providers have a large responsibility (Grossman, White, Hopkins, & Potter, 2014). Perhaps, in order to remove responsibility from doctors, the governments of some countries completely prohibit abortion and provide severe penalties for violations of this law.
Performing Abortions Without Legal Grounding
The case with the permanent blocking of the possibility of performing abortions for quite objective reasons proves that the modern government’s views are rather conservative. The situation in Indiana, where the court limits women’s rights with regard to the possibility of terminating an unwanted pregnancy, confirms the fact that the public cannot fully assess the problem (The Associated Press, 2017). Moreover, both those medical workers who would perform the operation and also their management would have severe problems. All the leaders of medical structural units, as it is known, are responsible for their subordinates, and a conscious violation of the law would obviously lead to not only the dismissal of the head but also to imprisonment.
The procedure of terminating the pregnancy is officially illegal if the government imposes certain bans on its implementation. As Dickens (2014) notes, the country’s norms define abortion as an act of women’s will; however, in some states, there are bans on performing this procedure. A person who carries out such an operation with the consent of a woman is also liable to punishment. The provision of premises and any other form of cooperation to conduct an abortion is punishable by imprisonment. Therefore, even in case of severe genetic disorders of the fetus, some clinics may reserve the right to refuse to provide women with appropriate medical services, which may be caused by a state ban. Even if the family is fully prepared to be responsible for the consequences of a particular operation, a special government ban significantly limits doctors’ opportunities in this area. That is why many women are fighting for the removal of such restrictions. They want more time to decide whether they can leave their child or not because, in most states, the maximum allowable period at which abortions can be performed is twenty weeks (Hern, 2014). The goal of women is to make it possible to independently decide on the possibility of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
Implications for the Management
The official ban on abortion does not negate the fact that women with complications caused by unprofessionally performed operations on terminating pregnancy attend hospitals illegally. Nevertheless, the authorities are actively fighting against such practices, and the punishment for the management of clinics that secretly perform these medical procedures is especially severe. A prison term that threatens a medical worker who committed an abortion is up to a few years. However, if it is a systematic violation of the law, it is possible that the person responsible for performing such an operation may be punished more severely.
The situation with the disease of the fetus radically changes the approach to solving the problem. The right of women to terminate the pregnancy because of the diagnosis given to their future child is considered to be essential in most developed countries, and the motives of those who seek the help of doctors are understandable (Grossman et al., 2014). Undoubtedly, the management of medical institutions will be responsible for those who perform these operations and report to their superiors on the number of patients with such problems. An ethical aspect is certainly taken into account since this issue is rather delicate and many factors should be considered: medical secrecy, the right to refuse surgery, etc. The consequences for management in case of a poorly executed abortion procedure will surely be negative. Therefore, it is in the interests of clinic representatives to do everything so that women who address them with health problems of their fetus could have the opportunity of full access to medical service.
Potential Threat of Abortion Full Legalization
Despite rather strong protests that continuously arise, it is possible that if the authorities completely legalized abortions, it cannot be stated unequivocally that the situation would improve. According to the World Health Organization (2015), the right of the woman to terminate her pregnancy can be caused by a number of factors: health problems, low social status, personal motives, etc. Nevertheless, such freedom can open negative prospects for many causes. For example, a large number of abortions performed in unsanitary conditions, which inevitably leads to the fact that prenatal clinics will not be able to cope with many women who will come to them. Moreover, if the quality of operations is kept low, which is theoretically possible at a small price, the number of women with gynecological problems is likely to grow. The state will have to allocate much money for patients’ treatment at the expense of budget funds, and the quality of all the operations will surely worsen due to the ever-increasing flow of women with complications. Therefore, full legalization of abortion can lead to dangerous consequences if the state and the leadership of relevant clinics do not control the scope and quality of these procedures.
Thus, ethical issues that are affected in the case of Susanne concern well-known problems of some people’s disapproval. Some citizens do not like the idea of full legalization of abortions since they consider this procedure to be a murder. Nevertheless, modern society assumes free decision-making, and if a particular family has good reasons for terminating the pregnancy, for example, genetic disease of the fetus, they probably have the right to do, as they want. The consequences for healthcare providers and managers can be dangerous if abortion is officially banned in the country or procedures are performed unskilled. Women should have more time to make a specific decision after they are told about the problem with the fetus.
The Associated Press. (2017). Judge permanently blocks Indiana law on genetic abnormality abortions. CBC News. Web.
Dickens, B. M. (2014). Ethical and legal aspects of noninvasive prenatal genetic diagnosis. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 124(2), 181-184.
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Grossman, D., White, K., Hopkins, K., & Potter, J. E. (2014). The public health threat of anti-abortion legislation. Contraception, 89(2), 73-74.
Hern, W. M. (2014). Fetal diagnostic indications for second and third trimester outpatient pregnancy termination. Prenatal diagnosis, 34(5), 438-444.
Treussard, S. (2014). Aborting my baby Oscar was the kindest thing I could do for him: Woman who made the agonising decision to end her child’s life after discovering he had Down’s syndrome. Mail Online. Web.
World Health Organization. (2015). Health worker role in providing safe abortion care and post abortion contraception. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.