Abortion and Informed Consent: How Biased Counseling Laws Mandate Violations of Medical Ethics
62 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2011
Date Written: September 17, 2011
More than half of the states place unique requirements on legally effective informed consent for abortion, requirements that are more stringent than those applicable to all other medical procedures. Some of these statutes have disturbing features, such as requiring that misleading statements be made to patients. These laws are putatively justified as necessary to ensure that consent to abortion is fully voluntary and informed. But an examination of the understanding of informed consent in the field of medical ethics shows that their worst features are actually harmful to the goals of the doctrine of informed consent and require health care providers to engage in unethical behavior. This article examines in detail the most problematic features of biased counseling laws, many of which have been become more popular with state legislatures in recent years. It goes on collect and explain the most influential ethical accounts of informed consent and demonstrate the deep ethical problems with biased counseling laws, including the ways they are detrimental to patient autonomy, patient well-being, and the essential moral properties of patients’ acts of consenting to treatment.
Keywords: abortion, medical ethics, health care, informed consent, reproductive rights, legislation, philosophy, autonomy, beneficence
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