Interactions of Law and Ethics Affecting Reproductive Choice
Medicine and Law, Vol. 24, pp. 549-559, 2005
11 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2005
Controversies affecting reproductive choice can often be resolved within interactions of legal and ethical decision-making. This paper addresses three topics, following the methodology presented in Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, Ethics, and Law, by R.J. Cook, B.M. Dickens and M.F. Fathalla (Oxford University Press, 2003). The book's 15 case studies each addresses medical, ethical, legal and human rights aspects, and structural approaches at clinical, healthcare system and societal levels.
Sterilization: Individual self-determination supports legal and ethical rights of intellectually competent persons to sterilization. Sterilization of intellectually compromised persons was historically abused, causing reactions of excessively protective prohibition.
Abortion: Most developed countries have liberalized abortion legislation, thereby reducing abortion-related mortality and morbidity, but many developing countries retain repressive colonial laws. Over 95% of the estimated 20 million unsafe abortions annually occur in developing countries.
Court-ordered Caesarean Deliveries: A concern in developed countries is the willingness of some courts to order Caesarean procedures over competent women’s objections.
Keywords: Abortion, sterilization, court-ordered caesarian delivery, reproductive health, human rights, unsafe abortion, contraceptive sterilization, involuntary sterilization, integration of law and ethics, unsafe motherhood
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