Bioethical View on Abortion
Considering the issue of abortion from bioethical point of view, it is worth defining the very principles of bioethics that although not being absolutes perform the role of moral guidelines basing on the personhood approach and moral criteria (McCormick, 2013). Bioethics proclaims such main interconnected principles as the principle of justice, autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. The issue of personhood is central to bioethical view on abortion regarding the discussion whether the fetus can be considered a person or not. According to Francis J. Beckwith, a living being can be considered a person only if it is functioning as a person. Even though in case the one being unconscious or asleep does not lose its personhood, the individual incapable of functioning as a person cannot be considered a person. At the same time, scientific approach states that the life begins at conception and ends at the death (Beckwith, 2001). However, as bioethics does not focus on the life in general, but on the criteria of person and personhood, purely scientific views cannot be applied defining the status of the fetus. The question whether the fetus is a person refers to the eternal ethical questions and remains unanswered so far.
Beneficence as bioethical principle envisages that the doctor should act in the way to provide best balance of clinical benefits over harms possible to the patient. To provide this balance, a profound clinical evidence-based perspective is needed (Chervenak et al., 2009). Deciding on abortion, it is necessary to encounter not only whether the termination of pregnancy would be beneficial for the health of a woman, but also nonmaleficence to the fetus. Beneficence raising the issue of personal responsibility is connected with the principle of autonomy (Tauber, 2005).
Limitation of personal freedom to choose or an obstacle that ruins the life plans are among the most common reasons for abortion. Bioethics, stating autonomy among its main principles, recognizes autonomy as the reflection of the deontological self-esteem materializing in the fulfillment of the life plans (Correa, 2013). However, autonomy should not be equalized with the absolute freedom of action as bioethics believes that every individual is capable of overtaking the responsibility for his actions and making the decisions adequately so that it does not hinder other people’s autonomy. Therefore, bioethical view on abortion envisages that both the woman and the physician are aware of the responsibility they take and can answer the consequences of their actions.
The principle of justice is not that easy to maintain as it is rather an ambivalent concept. The principle of justice can refer to the patient as well as to the future child. Depending on the circumstances of conception and the consequences preservation or termination of pregnancy will have for the women, the decision regarding abortion should be made. However, it is absolutely clear that the rights of the woman to make her own choice in terms of autonomy principle, as well as the rights of the unborn, should be considered so that not to cause …