The analysis of the relationship between the law and medicine in a broad context suggests that the legality of artificial termination of pregnancy (abortion), along with transplants, psychiatry, genetics, and cloning, is a barometer which identifies the level of legal support of medical activities. It is rather crucial to note that the problem of abortion is complex, as evidenced by the level of international cooperation of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding these issues. Therefore, this provision is not an accident The problem of abortion also affects the interests and destiny of at least two human beings – a woman who decided to interrupt pregnancy and an embryo (fetus) who is in her womb.
Statistical data show that a significant number of abortions in many countries around the world strongly suggests the need for complex analysis of the situation which s theoretical and legal aspects. It is imperat to reveal the essence of the problems that arise during the implementation of abortion This notion is expanded in the Declaration of Oslo on medical abortion, which was adopted by the World Medical Assembly in 1970: “Determining attitude to this issue (abortion) and the rules of its solution in a community lies outside the jurisdiction of medicine; doctors only need to protect their patients and to defend their rights in a society” (Russo and Denious). Indeed, the primary task of lawyers is to develop the common law principles and their basis for adopting legislation that would regulate all parties regarding such critical issue as abortion. Clearly, these decisions should be made only on the premise of previous theoretical and legal research as well as on the basis of comprehensive discussion involving doctors, philosophers, members of religious and civic organizations, and other stakeholders.
The first step towards this aim is to decide on terminology. Conventionally, an abortion is as any surgical intervention aimed at termination of a human life. In order to highlight the value of the right to life and health care it is rather critical that abortion sh performed at the woman’s request (Russo and Denious). The world practice shows that currently there is no prevailing model for legal regulation of abortion. For example, in the USA, which is famous for its democratic principles, the issue of regulation of an artificial termination of pregnancy is characterized by certain features. Questions about the right of women for abortion, that is medical in its form, acquire a pronounced socio-political overtone. The U.S. Supreme Court considering the case on the legality of abortion has concluded that “the right to autonomy of a person is rather broad and includes the right of women to decide on the termination of unwanted (for whatever reason) pregnancy” (Russo and Denious). However, in the context of abortion the right to personal autonomy is not absolute: a woman cannot interrupt her pregnancy whenever she wants and for whatever reason she wants. The Court states that within three months of pregnancy a woman has a right to decide freely on the abortion. However, with the advent of a fetal viability an artificial abortion is prohibited, except in the case of a danger to the health or life of a woman.
The Netherlands, a country with a strong liberal legislation on many health related aspects of public relations, has its own laws on abortion. The interest in the Netherlands experience is connected with the fact that despite the availability of abortions, an extremely low percentage of their implementation is observed in this country. According to the Act on abortion, taken during 1981-1984, the operation of artificial abortion could be justified under the following conditions:
It should be noted that there are growing liberal legal bases in the context of the global trend of legislative abortion support. The question of abortion is regulated by different civil codes in various countries. On average, they provide that abortion may be performed at the request of women during pregnancy for a period not exceeding 12 weeks. In cases determined by law, abortion can be performed during pregnancy from 12 to 22 weeks. Illegal abortion leads to criminal responsibility in accordance with criminal acts. The highlighted issue is fixed in details and resolved at the level of subordinate legislation. In particular, there are acts which approve the regulations on a procedure of artificial abortion by defining methods of abortion and clinical protocols of obstetric and gynecological care. Together they reinforce the issue of medical abortion (Soroka and Wlezien).
The operation of artificial abortion should be safe for pregnant women. Unsafe abortion is a procedure of interrupting an unwanted pregnancy by a specialist who does not have the necessary skills or in conditions which do not meet the medical standards. Detailing the legislative provisions concerning artificial termination of pregnancy it should be mentioned that in the term of pregnancy up to 12 weeks, abortion in accordance with a desire of a woman (Soroka,and Wlezien). Patients undergoing such operation are consulted before and after this procedure regarding the characteristics of a specific method of abortion and its possible health effects. Conducting artificial termination of pregnancy for patients with limited capabilities or those younger than 14 years old should be upon the request of their legal representatives; patients who are at least 14 years old should provide their own consent (Soroka and Wlezien).
In the absence of contraindications to the operation of artificial abortion, a pregnant woman receives an advisory opinion from a specialist. It is important to note that prior to the operation of artificial abortion a patient fills out a form of voluntary, informed consent to use a certain method of abortion.
Hence, there are two sides of a problem. On one hand, nobody has a right to kill a human being. On the other hand, the respect for women does not allow treating her as a means of rendering new generation. In this sense, it is unreasonable to refuse operations of artificial abortion. As a consequence, it is advisable to form the legal regulation of abortion on the following principles:
These considerations must be legislated in order to prevent conflict situations in the area of abortion. In this approach, there is a likelihood of a high-quality regulatory framework that is based on a compromise between the rights and legitimate interests of a mother and the desire of a state and a society to ensure the right to life of an unborn human, and thus, to improve the country's demographics.
The question of a birth control stirred humanity from ancient times. The search for methods of contraception and abortion was conducted by many doctors in the ancient world. Throughout human history, abortion was one of the oldest problems of medical ethics, philosophy, law, and theology. Currently, abortion is legalized in more than 50 countries, but there are many restrictions on these procedures; sometimes they can be conducted only in exceptional cases (Soroka and Wlezien).
In addition, there is a moral aspect to this issue. On one hand, pregnancy is a normal physiological process which occurs with a woman (with her body); onthe other hand, it is the process of forming a new biological person. Therefore, even allowing the practice of abortion on the principle of “a lesser evil,” it should be kept in mind that it is a serious injury (moral and physical) for women, as well as interrupting an already initiated life of a new human. In this regard, it is incorrect to count abortion as a usual method of “family planning” on a par with contraceptives (Creinin).
In recent decades, abortion has become one of the most intensive and debated problems in the theory of morality. Advocates of abortion rights and their opponents do not even agree with each other on the terms of the dispute. Opponents insist that the problem revolves around the question: should embryos possess the same right of not to be killed as humans? Advocates believe that the central question is whether it is possible to force a woman to bear an unwanted fetus, even at the cost of her own health and life? The argument that justifies a woman's right to free responsible choice of whether to bear a child or abort his/her life is most fully set in documents and publications of the IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) (Creinin). The issue of abortion is a part of the issue on reproductive health, reproductive choice, and reproductive human rights. Reproductive health reflects an extremely crucial aspect of health in general and involves:
Reproductive choice is a manifestation of moral individual autonomy in matters of sexuality and procreation. First of all, it represents a conscious and responsible attitude to these issues. Reproductive rights are designed to create social conditions for reproductive health. They are reflected in many international human rights instruments and national legislation. The most valuable aspect of reproductive rights is the right to be protected by a state and to maintain reproductive health (Creinin). This right becomes real only when there is an accessibility of all modern means of planning family, one of which (though the least appropriate) in certain situations can be considered abortion. Unfortunately, in today's society abortion is inevitable.
Reproductive rights, in a sense, are fundamental, in particular for women. As one of the first movement activists in a woman's right to abortion A. Davis said: “Regardless with what rights women are provided – to vote, to get an education, etc. – all of them are worth nothing if we do not have the right to decide what to do with our body and to control what happens to us when our fate can be changed by those who can get us pregnant by accident, fraud or use of force” (Creinin). IPPF experts say that for all European countries the way to development should not pass through the restriction of reproductive choice but, in contrast, through its extension. Thus, IPPF ideologues speak of “a dual strategy” (Creinin). In a modern society, a woman should have access to sex education; she should have a choice of fertility control. However, in the presence of these features safe and legal abortion should be available.
In terms of morality, abortion is always a difficult and painful moral choice. A woman goes to an abortion without thinking that she can be permanently deprived of a happy opportunity to become a mother. One should not expect miracles from a modern science which now allows conception in vitro. One should consider the price to pay. This is not a material side question. According to statistical data, only 15% of artificially fertilized women can make and have a baby (Russo and Denious). Moreover, not everyone can do it after the first time. There can be several attempts to empty fertilization, abortion, pain, despair, power and time. This is the price a woman after abortion might pay. Termination of pregnancy is always hurtful. Losing a child is also always awful. Artificial abortion, no matter which method is used, is also bad. If a doctor after an abortion tells that a woman will have children, he/she is lying, since nobody knows this with certainty. In fact, there are two results that are equally likely to happen: either a woman will have children or not.
Finally, it is obvious that abortion is a procedure which involves depriving a human being of its life and right to existence. It seems to be crystal clear that such activities are entirely inappropriate in a civilized world where a human life is treated with respect. However, there are moments in life when such things as abortion appear to be a lesser evil. For instance, a woman was raped and she cannot be forced to preserve a child, who is undesirable to her as a reminder of a physical and moral offense. The other example is a woman with AIDS who has high chances to give a birth to a child doomed to “mere existence.” Nobody denies the fact that abortion is a terrible choice. However, sometimes this is the only solution for a woman. Consequently, it is clear that abortion has existed for a long time and will continue to exist either in an illegal form or legally. Hence, a state should provide a concise basis for legal statement of abortion as a legal medical procedure.
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