Ethical Healthcare Issues Paper
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There are numerous ethical healthcare issues that current affect our society. This one is at the forefront of what makes us a society, the ability to reproduce. One of the most important things for most couples who unite is to start a family. Children make up an important part of our society by ensuring that our species continues to evolve. The majority of couples accomplish this by reproducing by sexual intercourse or naturally, but this is not always the case as some couples have trouble conceiving. Also, same sex couples and single women who may chose to have a child without a partner cannot reproduce this way, thus requiring alternate methods in order to conceive a child and reproduce.
Artificial insemination is a process that doctors might suggest for couples who have trouble conceiving a biological child. The process requires that the husband’s, partner’s, or donor sperm be placed directly in the female’s reproductive tract. Donor sperm is used if the partner’s or husband’s sperm count is too low or in the case of same sex couples or single females trying to conceive without a partner (Baxamusa, 2011). The doctor monitors a woman’s ovulation cycle and once the best day is determined semen is placed directly on the reproductive tract and the waiting period begins to see if fertilization occurs. There are several procedures used to artificially inseminate a woman, two are most commonly used. One is the Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) method and the second the Intracervical Insemination (ICI) method.
The most common and least expensive is the IUI procedure where sperm is fed directly into the uterus through the use of a catheter. The female is then asked to rest by laying down for 15 minutes or so as this may assist in the success of the procedure (Baxamusa, 2011). The latter, Intracervical Insemination method mimics the natural insemination method of sexual intercourse. In the ICI procedure, the catheter is placed at the cervix as sperm is fed and swims through fallopian tubes to the awaiting ovum. The success rate of either procedure depends on many factors. The Intrauterine Insemination procedure yields the highest success rate of 15% to 20% per menstrual cycle. Intracervical Insemination procedure lowers the fertilization rate of success by 5% to 10% to 15% per menstrual cycle (Baxamusa, 2011).
Our society’s religious background lends itself to making artificial insemination an ethical issue. As many people believe that sexual reproduction should only take place naturally, between a man and a woman, this is an issue that will continue to be discussed in the healthcare field for many years to come. Healthcare professionals need to be objective and advocate for their patients by always keeping in mind the responsibilities they possess as care givers. There are many ethical principles that can assist healthcare providers accomplish this. The Principle of Beneficence, the basis of certain moral norms as to what can be considered good and evil is one that should be at the forefront of every healthcare professional (Ascension Health, 2011). The immediate consequence of the first, the Principle of Nonmaleficence which could be interpreted as to doing no harm plays an important part on making the decision to assist patients seeking artificial insemination.
According to Ascension Health ( 2011) “Some of the specific norms that arise from the principle of beneficence in the Catholic tradition are: 1) never deliberately kill innocent human life (which, in the medical context, must be distinguished from foregoing disproportionate means); 2) never deliberately (directly intend) harm; 3) seek the patient’s good; 4) act out of charity and justice; 5) respect the patient’s religious beliefs and value system in accord with the principle of religious freedom; 6) always seek the higher good; that is, never neglect one good except to pursue a proportionately greater or more important good; 7) never knowingly commit or approve an objectively evil action; 8) do not treat others paternalistically but help them to pursue their goals; 9) use wisdom and prudence in all things; that is, appreciate the complexity of life and make sound judgments for the good of oneself, others, and the common good” (Healthcare ethics, para. 3).
I believe that all healthcare principles are interrelated, supplementing each other in one way or another, as the Principle of Religion Freedom relates to the Principle of Human Dignity. Healthcare providers need to access the wishes of their patients and make sure they do not act against their religious ideals and have the right to refuse any treatment that might go against their morals. This is why it is important the all procedures and its risks are explained in detail so that the patient fully understands everything it encompasses (Ascension Health, 2011). This directly leads to the Principle of Informed Consent, by understanding everything that the procedure encompasses, the patient has the ability to voluntarily accept the procedure regardless of the risks involved. According to Ascension Health ( 2011), “The ability to give informed consent depends on: 1) adequate disclosure of information; 2) patient freedom of choice; 3) patient comprehension of information; and 4) patient capacity for decision-making.
By meeting these four requirements, three necessary conditions are satisfied: 1) that the individual’s decision is voluntary; 2) that this decision is made with an appropriate understanding of the circumstances; and 3) that the patient’s choice is deliberate insofar as the patient has carefully considered all of the expected benefits and reasonable alternatives. Legally, adequate disclosure includes information concerning the following: 1) diagnosis; 2) nature and purpose of treatment; 3) risks of treatment; and 4) treatment alternatives” (Healthcare ethics, para. 1). This ability to choose what you want based on your own values and beliefs and to respect those choices is what the Principle of Autonomy emphasizes. As care providers, healthcare professionals should ensure that patients make informed choices which are free from any outside influence or coercion. They also need to provide a secure environment that protects the privacy of patients and their confidentiality is also protected when choosing any healthcare procedure (Ascension Health, 2011).
The ethical healthcare issues with face as a society are many and should be discussed in an objective manner, always ensuring that the patient’s rights
are at the forefront of any decision. A healthcare professional can accomplish this by incorporating a Code of Ethics and Ethical Principles into actions made to promote the interest of those being served. While ethical principles can assist in making sure patients are treated with respect and integrity, professionals have a personal responsibility and obligation to those who they serve and to our society in general to provide service that not only comply with ethical guidelines, but that we also do the right thing as human beings.
Ascension Health. (2011). Key ethical principles. Retrieved from
Baxamusa, B. N. (2011). How is artificial insemination done?. Buzzle.com. Retrieved from