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Abortion As An Ethical Issue


Nurses in the 1990s are confronted with an array of issues that contain moral dimensions (Clarke, 1991, pp. 22-25). These issues run the gamut from considerations of a patient's right to die, to adhering to physicians' "do not resuscitate" orders, to the role of the nurse in questions of abortion (Silva, 1991, pp. 69-79, Yaring, 1990a, pp. 335-342; Yaring, 1990b, pp. 327-334).

Research has found that a decision to abort or not to abort is difficult for a woman, regardless of the circumstances and the nature of the decision (Hall, 1990, pp. 32-35). Research also has found that many women experience difficulty in verbally expressing their feeling with respect to a decision concerning an abortion (Fraser, 1990, pp. 45-47).

Within the discipline of professional nursing, disparate opinion also exists with respect to the abortion issue (Silva, 1991, pp. 69-79). There are pro-life nurses and pro-choice nurses, as there are pro-life and pro-choice proponents in the general population. There are also professional nurses who are ambivalent towards this volatile issue (Silva, 1991, pp. 69-79).

The professional nurse has a primary responsibility to serve her or his patients. The personal values of individual nurses, however, both should and do influence the approach to the discharge of a nurse's professional responsibility.

This research analyzes the ethical dilemma faced by one professional nurse in relation to dealing with the issue of abortion as a part of her practice. Information concerning the ethical dilemma confronted by this professional nurse was obtained through the conduct of an interview with the individual.

The ethical dilemma faced by this nurse involved a conflict between strongly held personal beliefs on the part of the nurse with respect to abortion and the professional obligations of this nurse to provide care to a patient with an immediate need fo...

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