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Ethical Decision-Making 1

Ethical Decision-Making

Jessica R. Evans

Grand Canyon University: NSG436

December 9, 2018
Ethical Decision-Making 2

Ethical Decision-Making

There comes a time an individual’s life where they must make a decision based on their

values and beliefs. Making the right choice based on their beliefs can be difficult, especially if

there is an easier way. However, to stay true to their ideals and what they believe in, they must

decide on a solution to their ethical dilemma that they would find acceptable. For maternity

nursing, abortion is one of the biggest ethical dilemmas in the field. Through decision-making

skills, nurses can help their patients choose a path regarding abortion.

Ethical Dilemma

To begin, Mary is a career-driven woman who has been actively trying to become

pregnant for years. After becoming pregnant and having multiple tests, her fetus has been

diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Her ethical dilemma is whether she should abort the baby or

continue the pregnancy, eventually giving birth to a mentally disabled child. Mary can abort the

fetus and continue to live her life as it is. She would still have her successful career, family, and

friends, or Mary could keep her baby. However, her life will change dramatically with a mentally

handicapped child because she will need to devote her time and energy in caring for it.

Furthermore, Mary has made a choice to terminate the pregnancy and try again in a few years.

Nurses have the duty to care and help Mary during her abortion and provide her the necessary


Abortion is a procedure that terminates a pregnancy through medicine or surgery

(Medline Plus 2018). While I do not agree with abortion myself, I understand that it is the

woman’s right to decide what she does with her body. Testing for Down Syndrome in pregnancy

is typically done within the first trimester, around 10 to 13 weeks. Chorionic Villi Sampling is
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the test that takes placental cells and analyzes the chromosomes (Mayo Clinic 2018). During this

time, abortion can be obtained through medicine and not surgery. Medical abortion, I believe, is

more humane than surgery. This allows for the fetus to be expelled naturally instead of being

forced out. In the end, as a nurse supervisor, I would be there for Mary with either decision she


Ethical and Moral Standards

There are many ethics and morals than can be applied to abortion. Medical professionals

need to respect autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. A patient always has

autonomy, which means that they have the right to make their own decisions based on their care.

Their decision is based on the patient’s own beliefs and values. Beneficence means that medical

professionals always have their patient’s interest at heart. They evaluate the diagnostic and

therapeutic interventions with the wishes of the patient. Nonmaleficence means that no harm is

intentionally done to patients. Lastly, justice is where all patients have a fair and equal chance of

treatment. For abortion, a patient has autonomy in deciding if she wants it done or not. Medical

professionals do right by the patient by respecting her wishes and continuing with her chosen

treatment. Additionally, they make sure the procedure has the lowest risks possible before

performing it and justice is there because all women who want an abortion are allowed to get

one, not just a select few (Patil 2014). Abortion is controversial due to beliefs that it is immoral.

In many places, it is believed to be wrong and unethical. The question is: is the fetus a human

being? Abortion, for many, is considered killing another human being by terminating their life.

In the end, the question remains whether women have the right to terminate the pregnancy or if it

is a violation of the rights of the fetus.

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What Can Nurse Leaders do to Navigate the Standard for Safe Patient Care?

Before becoming a nurse, it is taught in nursing school to evaluate one’s own values and

beliefs because it helps nurses emphasize with their patients. As medical professionals, we have

no right to judge others on what they believe and value. Thus, we cannot stop providing care to

those we do not agree with. Most nurses will continue to care for a patient with differing views

such as abortion, however, there are some who feel strongly against it. To provide safe care,

nurse leaders can assign patients who want an abortion with nurses who understand it is the

woman’s decision. This allows the patients to not be judged and appropriately cared for during

the abortion. Additionally, the nurse leader can hold meeting that advocate patient’s autonomy

and the duty of a nurse doing good for the patient and doing no harm.

What can be Used to Resolve this Dilemma?

For nurses and patients who need to make an ethical decision, the PLUS ethical decision

model is useful. This model is comprised of several steps: defining the problem, seeking support

and guidance, identifying alternatives, evaluating the alternatives, making a decision,

implementing the decision, and evaluating it (Ethics and Compliance Initiative 2018). This

model helps others make an educated decision. For Mary, she made the decision to abort the

fetus after evaluating the pros and cons of each alternative. As nurses, understanding that this is

what she decided and it is her right, they can treat her normally. However, it does make it easier

when knowing what they believe and value. In the end, by respecting Mary’s autonomy, medical

professionals can perform the abortion without judgement.

What are Different Solutions and How Can Leadership Styles Influence the Decision?
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There are different solutions to Mary’s dilemma other than abortion. For instance, she

could keep the baby and raise it, despite it having Down Syndrome. She could gain the right

education and support groups for parents of children with Down Syndrome. Another solution is

give the baby for adoption since there are millions of couples who want a baby. Many would be

grateful to have the chance to become a parent. However, it is Mary’s decision in the end. By

assigning nurses who are nonjudging about abortion, Mary can be provided with the right

education regarding abortion, support groups, and adoption. This way her decision is educated

and thought out. This style of leadership helps provide an area of no judgement, just facts. No

one is bullying Mary to make a decision that they are comfortable with.

In conclusion, abortion is controversial. However, it is more important for the patient’s

safety. By performing abortions in the medical field, there is less chance of infection or

complications. If abortions are not performed in clinics, women would just get it done elsewhere.

By making sure women are educated about their decision, it would make everyone involved feel

more comfortable.

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Ethics and Compliance Initiative. (2018). The PLUS Ethical Decision Model. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Down Syndrome. Retrieved from


MedlinePlus. (2018). Abortion. Retrieved from

Patil, A. (2014). Medical Ethics in Abortion. Retrieved from