The Ethics of Abortion

The Ethics of Abortion
In your lectures this week, beginning of life, fundamental rights, and Roe vs. Wade provided a perspective of ethical issues. Whether a legal right or a law, the ethical issues surrounding the beginning of life are complex, emotional, and potentially costly.

Regardless of your position on abortion, describe the ethical factors involved with your views on ethical concerns at the beginning of life. Please include who you believe the primary patient to be and what you might consider factors in decisions about quality of life for the unborn and risk to the mother.

2) End of Life Issues in Healthcare

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Consider the role of hospice and palliative medicine at the end-of-life.

What are your beliefs on care after a terminal diagnosis is made? Now, research the state of Nevada’s advance directive law (or that of a state of your choice). Describe the law in your words and describe the functions of the form.

Does the form contain information on power of attorney? Does the form contain information on the living will? Should extraordinary care continue, or are comfort measure only the best option?
The Court in Roe vs. Wade concluded that the right to privacy doctrine included a “qualified” right to abortion. The Court ruled in that case that a Texas statute, which prohibited all abortions except those to protect the mother’s life, was unconstitutional because it infringed on a woman’s right to an abortion, even at points where a compelling state interest had not attached.

Abortion cases decided several years after Roe reflected a greater acceptance of state laws, which impacted the right to abortion. This was largely due to the changing composition of the Supreme Court. Justice Rehnquist, one of the dissenters in the Roe decision, became the Chief Justice in 1986. Viewed as a highly conservative member of the Court, Rehnquist wrote a decision for the majority in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989). The Court upheld a Missouri statute, which stated that human life began at conception, barred the use of state property for abortions, and required viability testing for advanced pregnancies. In a sharp departure from the analysis of the majority in Roe, Rehnquist found that the state had a compelling interest in fetal life throughout the pregnancy, in contrast to throughout the first-trimester-of-pregnancy approach in Roe. Although the Court did not overturn Roe in the Webster decision, it did question Roe’s legal and logical underpinnings.

Roe v. Wade gave women a fundamental right to abortion based on the right to privacy. The Court set up the trimester approach, in which the woman’s right to privacy is strongest during the first trimester. During the second trimester, the government had an interest in protecting the life of the child, which is weighed against the mother’s right to privacy. Abortion is allowed in the third trimester only to preserve the life of the mother.

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