Ethical conduct is an essential part of high-quality nursing care. According to Haddad and Geiger, ethical principles in medicine are meant to ensure that practitioners are committed to the well-being of patients (individuals, communities, and the population as a whole). While such ethical principles as accountability and beneficence seem clear and understandable on paper, it may not always be easy to comply with them in real life because many events are characterized by ethical ambiguity. There is usually no single approach to the resolution of ethical dilemmas in practice, yet a nurse must still always try to attain the best possible outcome.
I cannot recall any serious ethical challenge in my practice. Thus, I would like to discuss a challenging situation related to abortion. The termination of pregnancy is regarded as one of the most questionable practices in the field of bioethics since it is associated with the matter of the moral status of the human fetus. Supposing that it is revealed during the early stages of pregnancy that an embryo has some developmental abnormalities. A practitioner may insist on the abortion since they are convinced that both the child and the family will be severely distressed after birth due to the poor health status of the former and significant healthcare costs induced. Such an approach is obviously ethically wrong because the practitioner’s decision in this scenario does not take into account the personal values and views of the parents. Moreover, it is linked to the stereotypical and discriminatory perceptions of disability, implying that people with developmental abnormalities and other serious health conditions cannot be happy and live full and meaningful lives.
Overall, the introduced scenario is mainly linked to the ethical principle of patient autonomy and the challenge of paternalism. Paternalism is defined as “an action and an attitude wherein the provider tries to act on behalf of the patient and believes that his or her actions are justified because of a commitment to act in the best interest of the patient.” The paternalistic approach is a product of psychological bias – the wrong belief that patients do not possess the competence to make the right decisions independently. It is valid to say that the question of whether to terminate the pregnancy or not in the described scenario can be resolved merely through open discussion of all alternatives and collaboration with the family.