Bioethical Issues in Nursing


Abortion as a bioethical issue-Article review

Abortion is a bioethical issue as indicated in the article because it touches on life and death. Abortion is a heavy bioethical issue because it has legal and ethical bindings. The nurses have no right to help a woman abort without proper reason. The legal system has a stake on the matter because abortion is illegal in some places and others it is not. Abortion is also considered a subject of morality. The combination of the policies surrounding abortion are conflicting. The nurse may want to object an abortion while considering their conscience while on the other hand, ethically, the patient is cared for how they approve (Organization, 2013). When taking the rights of the patient into consideration, the nurse will have to care for a woman post abortion even when the nurse personally does not approve of abortion. The reasons why women move to seek abortion are diverse. Sometimes, a woman in abject poverty may want to abort because they know that they cannot raise a child in their state. This situation puts the woman in a difficult position where they do not have a plan for raising the baby while at the same time they may have conceived due to lack of access to contraceptives.

Abortion is a legal sore spot. Some legal systems argue that abortion should be left to the women to decide on while other legal systems criminalize abortions. The medical implications of safe abortions are minimal which is one of the advantaged of legalizing abortions (Organization, 2013). On the other hand, abortions are very dangerous when done the wrong way, a situation that is very common when women have no access to abortion services. Lack of access to safe abortion services directs people to the street doctors which sometimes results in death of both the child and the mother. As per the article, abortion is still disputable.

Ethically, a nurse is supposed to save the life of the mother and the child. In the case of an abortion, therefore, the nurse is supposed to evaluate the danger the procedure puts the mother in. if it is too dangerous, then the nurse is supposed to ensure the mother gives birth or has a surgical procedure performed. The nurse is supposed to take care of the patient’s health first. However, the nurse must be aware of the legal issues surrounding abortion in the state where they operate. The nurse is not supposed to breach the law. It is also in the best interests of the nurse to ensure that the patient is well cared for and no life is lost due to abortion (Organization, 2013). Medical ethics have a provision for abortion as safe medical procedure. This makes it more difficult for the nurse to decide on whether it is right to help a patient procure an abortion or not. As a nurse, one is also supposed to be aware of the possibility of the patient suing after the abortion is procured. The patient may sue the nurse of wrongful abortion in case the nurse and the patient did not sign a legally binding commitment to the procedure. At the same time, the nurse allowing the patient to abort cannot be legally protected because the law does not approve. The nurse has to be very flexible and firm in such a situation to prevent avoidable medical situations.

Case Study:

The ethical and legal issues in this case work in favor of the nurse. Ethically, the nurse has to save life without dwelling on what the patient had in mind when inflicting injuries on themselves. Legally, the Do Not Resuscitate order becomes questionable when the patient attempts suicide (Geppert, 2010). The order is supposed to be applicable in case of a natural cause of death or in the case where the patient is terminally ill. In this case, the old man was grieving when he issued the order. This situation alone makes the order even more invalid because grief can cloud judgment. Under this circumstance, the nurse should absolutely wheel the patient to the theatre. Legally, the patient is supposed to save life where possible. In this case, therefore, the nurse should ensure the old man survives if he can by offering him good medical care. The mental state of such a patient cannot be trusted to make the right judgment on life and death matters. When a patient attempts suicide, their state of mind is questionable, further invalidating the Do Not Resuscitate order. The nurse can also resuscitate the patient and legally be protected in as much as they are supposed to honor even the of court NDR orders. The nurse can be legally defended in case the patient survives by indicating that the order did not specifically single out the situation where the patient unsuccessfully attempted suicide.

The legal issues here are, the nurse is supposed to follow the patient’s wishes of no resuscitation. The same nurse is also legally accountable to the family members of the patient in that they have to do everything to save the old man’s life. Given the situation of the Emergency Room also, the nurse has to make the decision fast and on their own. Therefore, legally, the nurse will save the old man’s life first and then handle the order later. Ethically, the nurse should save lives regardless of the situation of the patient. The exceptional cases are where nothing can be done to save the life of a patient or the patient is on the final stretch of a terminal illness. Ethically, nurses can honor the wishes of the patients to not be resuscitated to reduce their suffering. For instance; a cancer patient gets to a point where noting can be done to treat or reduce their pain, in this case the orders can be followed. Therefore, the DNR is invalid due to the state of mind of the patient at the time of signing the order (Geppert, 2010).

In this case, the nurse will have no choice but to honor the family’s wishes. The patient should be operated on and treated to the best possible recovery point. This is because, the likelihood that the old man acted irrationally in shooting himself is high. There is also a possibility that the shooting may have been an accident. The patient may not have intended to commit suicide at the time of the incident. The further assumptions make it more ethically and legally logical to save the life of the patient (Geppert, 2010). The Do Not Resuscitate order will now be applicable to any natural cause of death after he survives the gunshot wound. The nurse will honor the family’s wishes in this case.


Geppert, C. (2010). Saving Life or Respecting Autonomy: The Ethical Dilemma of DNR Orders in Patients who Attempt Suicide. The Internet Journal of Lae, Healthcare and Ethics.

Organization, B. (2013, December 31). Abortion. Retrieved from Adelide Centre for Bioethics and Culture:

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