The Ethics of Abortion

Subject: Medical Ethics
Pages: 4
Words: 868
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Abortion is a controversial topic in numerous parts of the world. Concerns exist over the procedure’s safety and potential risks, but they are not significant enough to affect its popularity or legality noticeably. Most of the world’s governments, including that of the United States, permit the performance of the procedure and sometimes have specialized clinics for the purpose. However, the clinics usually allow elective abortions without a medical reason, which leads to questions about the morality of such a procedure. This essay will explore the arguments for abortion and against it in an unbiased manner and elaborate on the relevance of the issue to a nurse.

Relevance to Nurses

Abortion debates tend to revolve around the recognition of human rights and the definition of a person. According to Al-Hadrawi (2016), abortion is currently considered a woman’s personal right and therefore should not be denied to her. On the other hand, if a fetus were to be viewed as a human, it would have a set of human rights as well, and it would be immoral to kill it in the abortion process. The contradiction does not have a satisfactory resolution outside of some religious perspectives, which leads to moral debates for nurses, who often perform the procedure directly, making education on the matter vital to their decision-making.

The nursing code of ethics can be ambiguous on the topic of abortion in some situations. Ultimately, the nurse’s decision should be informed by his or her moral values and beliefs. If the nurse does not believe that a fetus is a person, provision 2, as described by the American Nurses Association (2015), would suggest that he or she should perform an abortion if it is requested. Furthermore, provisions 3 and 4 imply that the nurse can and should decide to perform the procedure if the pregnancy endangers the patient’s health, but the latter’s consent is essential. However, if the nurse holds strong opinions about the status of the fetus as a person, he or she should not be coerced into carrying out abortions.

Arguments for Abortion

The medical benefits of the procedure in specific situations are the primary argument for its continued availability and legality. There are situations where the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman with complications that could potentially be fatal for both mother and child. An abortion can save the life of the patient without committing to the risk of miscarriage, infection, or other complications. Furthermore, abortion is sometimes advised for fetuses that are diagnosed with severe abnormalities, such as conjoined twins. Overall, the ability of abortions to save lives and avoid adverse outcomes establishes it as an essential part of medical practice.

On the other hand, elective abortions are primarily a moral concern, as they are usually not associated with health-related reasons. Commonly cited reasons for the procedure’s performance include an inability to support the child and the desire to have more time to study, work, or relax. The idea is supported by González, Jiménez-Martín, Nollenberger, and Castello (2018), who state that the Spanish abortion reform has led to more educational degrees and higher life satisfaction for the affected women. The results would suggest that unwanted motherhood leads to worse overall outcomes for the mother, which may reflect on the child. As such, proponents of elective abortion claim that the situation is not desirable, and women should be allowed to choose to terminate their pregnancies.

Arguments Against Abortion

Arguments against abortion are separated into medical concerns and ethical questions. The former describes a variety of adverse outcomes that may happen as a result of abortion and use them to argue that the procedure is too unsafe. However, due to the improvement of technology and the emergence of specialized abortion clinics, many of the dangers are highly unlikely to occur, and little scientific evidence for the riskiness of abortion exists. Nevertheless, the procedure is not perfect, and it is always associated with risks and dangers, as is the case with most intrusive medical procedures.

The ethical debate on the morality of abortion and its relation to human rights is more active than the discussion of its medical benefits and dangers. The primary argument, as mentioned above and supported by Rezaei and Ebrahimi (2017), is that the fetus is a human being from the moment when it is conceived. As such, it should benefit from human rights such as the right to live and have them enforced to the same or higher degree as those of the mother. Another argument for giving birth and taking care of the child is social responsibility, which is regarded as encompassing childbirth in some cultures. Ultimately, opponents of abortion tend to claim that the decision to terminate a pregnancy does not belong to the mother.


Abortion is a complex issue, particularly for nurses, who are crucial to their performance. Supporters of the procedure note the medical benefits and the positive outcomes of avoiding unwanted childbirth. Opponents of abortion describe the risks and raise the moral concerns of the recognition of fetuses as humans and social responsibility. Ultimately, a nurse should make decisions about the procedure based on his or her personal beliefs as well as those of the patient.


Al-Hadrawi, H. H. (2016). Is it moral to kill an innocent person? The moral dilemma of abortion. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 7(8), 792-795.

American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses. Web.

González, L., Jiménez-Martín, S., Nollenberger, N., & Castello, J. V. (2018). The effect of abortion legalization on fertility, marriage and long-term outcomes for women. Web.

Rezaei, F., & Ebrahimi, S. (2016). Abortion: A moral issue. Women’s Health, 4. Web.