Abortion Regarding Nursing Code of Ethics


The permissibility of abortion has made headlines both in the healthcare and legal domain. The pro-life supporters argue that the fetus is human and has the right to live. Any attempt to eliminate a pregnancy is considered immoral and unethical. The pro-choice viewpoint argues that a woman has the right to control her body and choose whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy. According to the pro-choice stand, a woman can terminate a pregnancy at will (Chervenak & McCullough, 2017). The different viewpoints surrounding the issue are likely to cause confusion, distress, and ambivalence in the nursing profession, hindering them from performing their tasks effectively.

The nursing profession is guided by four pillars of ethics, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, and autonomy. The beneficence principle urges nurses to do good, while non-maleficence prohibits nurses from doing evil or immoral things. Autonomy gives the patient a chance to decide the fate of their medical journey, while justice requires that patients get a fair hearing on issues affecting them (Raad, 2018). However, the ethical pillars in nursing are jeopardized by the contradicting arguments of both the pro-choice and pro-life inclinations. If the patients and nurses have different viewpoints, service delivery may be affected. Therefore, the ethical dilemma is likely to hinder the nurses from dispensing their duties due to the firm stance of each side and hence the quality of nursing care for maternal health will be jeopardized.

Practical Alternatives

Abortion has both medical and psychological effects on the women subjected to it. Exploring alternatives in the healthcare domain can help ease the ethical dilemma and give the patients and nurses options other than abortion. Adoption is a practical alternative where a woman can maintain the pregnancy until the delivery and then give the child to other people who are willing to take care of the child. Adoption is advantageous because it gives the child a chance to live a happy life (Chervenak & McCullough, 2017). However, adoption does not ease the pains of pregnancy and childbirth, which in some cases are the main reason a person may want to abort.

Adoption permanently removes parental rights a person has after giving up their children. Legal guardianship and co-parenting are feasible options if a woman wants to give out a child after delivery but does not want to give up some of her parental roles. The advantage of legal guardianship is that the woman has the right to see the child and play some parental role (Ziegler, 2018). However, she may disagree with the guardian’s parental method. Counselling is an extra option that the woman confronted with the abortion dilemma can have to help them understand the repercussions and consequently avoid committing the abortion. The advantage of counselling is that it aligns the person’s thoughts with the morals and logic of the issue. However, counselling can be a prerequisite to jeopardizing the autonomy principle.

Practical support is an option that women can use to avoid abortion. Practical support includes contraception under the laws to have all women of the childbearing age who are not ready to be parents to be put under contraception to ensure that they do not fall into the ethical dilemma. The advantage of practical support and contraception ensures that the women do not get pregnant unless they are ready (Raad, 2018). However, the option is disadvantageous because contraception may have side effects which may eventually lead to the inability to conceive.


The primary solution to the ethical dilemma in abortion is supporting a rigid code of ethics in nursing. The code of ethics must be formulated based on consensus from both sides of the abortion viewpoint. The nursing leadership must organize education and training sessions where ethical choices are emphasized to provide quality services. Further, bringing different disciplines together is an antidote because it incorporates the scientific findings, evidence-based practice, and the legal framework guiding abortion (Raad, 2018). Training is essential because the nurses get the basis for decision making based on the ethical practices and not based on their emotions or the pro-choice/pro-life ideologies. Strict adherence to the nursing code of ethics helps the nurses provide evidence-based care while taking care of the patient’s wishes as dictated by the autonomy ethical principle.

Evaluation process and outcome

The most challenging aspect of the decision-making process is that both sides of the debate argue that they are protecting the life of the mother and the child. Having a multidisciplinary team to formulate nursing ethics to take care of the abortion dilemma. The training to ensure that ethical standards guide all nurses creates a challenge of conflict of interests, especially when the nurse leaders are biased and take sides with either the pro-choice or pro-life (Ziegler, 2018). The training solution creates further problems in terms of cost, time, and conflict of interests.


Abortion has been under discussion since the early 1960s, and different people have coined different theories supporting or against it. The nursing profession has the mandate to offer quality healthcare to patients regardless of their religious and cultural beliefs. The rise of pro-life and pro-choice debates on the issue of abortion splits the nursing profession in the middle and jeopardizes the provision of healthcare. The nursing field needs to take a strong stand based on evidence and scientific research to formulate nursing ethics that will guide the decisions made in the healthcare domain. Nurse leaders must ensure that nurses are trained to adhere to the ethics and make better dictions on matters of abortion.


Chervenak, F. A., & McCullough, L. B. (2017). Ethical dimensions of the fetus as a patient. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 43, 2-9. Web.

Ziegler, M. (2018). The Jurisprudence of Uncertainty: Knowledge, Science, and Abortion. Wis. L. Rev., 317. Web.

Raad, R. (2018). Nursing the stigma: conflicting realities of abortion (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University). Web.

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NursingBird. (2023, March 14). Abortion Regarding Nursing Code of Ethics. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/abortion-regarding-nursing-code-of-ethics/


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1. NursingBird. "Abortion Regarding Nursing Code of Ethics." March 14, 2023. https://nursingbird.com/abortion-regarding-nursing-code-of-ethics/.


NursingBird. "Abortion Regarding Nursing Code of Ethics." March 14, 2023. https://nursingbird.com/abortion-regarding-nursing-code-of-ethics/.