Persistant Vegitative State and Pregnancy, The Ethical Dilemma

Persistant vegitative state and pregnancy, the ethical dilemma


In everyday life, nurses do face many ethical dilemmas. This kind of dilemmas makes them to learn more about their profession. It also helps them to shape their morals and values. The article “In the name of good intentions: nurses’ perspectives on caring for a pregnant patient in a persistent vegetative state” discusses a case from admission to discharge involving a twenty-two-year-old pregnant patient, Judy, who had an anoxic brain injury (Hiossi, et al., 2006). The injury was caused by abuse of heroin overdose and the nurses’ accounts of how they felt during the client’s hospital stay

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Victims of rape still have to decide if they are going to give birth or terminate the unborn child. Due to this dilemma, they are forced to deal with the many traumatic side effects. Some of those side effects are physical, some are emotional and some are a chaotic combination of both. Also the victims of rape have to handle the sometimes crippling stigmas associated with being a victim of rape, including being blamed for their own assault. A rape stigma as defined in the Encyclopedia of Rape, “ is the negative perception of a rape survivor’s reputation, manifested in insinuations or openly expressed misconceptions that the assault was somehow ‘invited’ by the victim’s behavior. Now the survivors of rape have rape shield laws to try to help protect them. It is an ethical for raped victims to left alone in carrying out the responsibilities of something they did not do willingly(Hiossi, et al., 2006).
Could you imagine having all your dreams and goals stripped from you? Unwanted pregnancy from rape could prevent a woman from her future plans, dreams, and goals.
The Pro-life view point argues that life begins at conception, so having an abortion is murder. But how can an embryo that is in the beginning stages of growth be considered murder when the nervous system has not been completed and there is no existing consciousness? I understand and completely agree with the pro-life view that there is a potential human life that could form from the embryo. But until that embryo develops a complete nervous system and has a conscious brain I don’t feel it shouldn’t be considered a human being or murder. Let’s think about in vitro fertilization for a moment. In Vitro fertilization is where eggs and sperm are mixed in laboratories then placed inside the uterus. I’m almost certain that there are many embryo’s that are frozen indefinitely or discarded. Is the destruction of these embryos murder as well?
Many taxpayers are against abortions. How is it fair to use their tax dollars to fund abortions? Tax money is used to fund military operations in the Middle East (Grubb, & Walsh, 2016). These operations take the lives of many human beings. Even though these operations are put into effect to protect our Nation, isn’t the killing of these human beings considered murder? The government uses taxpayer’s hard earned money to fund many operations that many civilians don’t agree with. But, just as our government has a right to protect our Country, doesn’t a woman have the right to protect her body against an unwanted invasion of her womb?

Ethical principles application to the ethical dilemma

I suppose it could be argued by Pro-lifers that there are other options other than abortion should a mother choose to not keep the baby (Johnson, Liu, & Burgess, 2019). The most common alternative would be adoption. Keep in mind also those teenage girls can also be victims of rape and can become pregnant. A lot of children are bounced from foster home to foster home and from one orphanage to another. These children are not receiving the life that they deserve. While many do find homes and are raised with family values, there are many that are not. These children are at a risk of not being able to care for them upon turning 18 and therefore, become homeless or turn to crime to survive.
Woman has civil rights. The decision is no longer made for them. In addition, International law guarantees women the right to “the highest attainable standard of health.” (Abortion is a Woman’s Right) If abortions were made illegal women would find a way to terminate the pregnancy.
Some of the most common social issues that rape victim 's encounter are associated with their relationships and marriages, and the intimacies that are no longer as comfortable and natural. A very real combination of both the physically and emotionally traumatic side effects comes in the form of a pregnancy (Hiossi, et al., 2006). While many victims try to shy away from the realities of their trauma, some female victims do not have that luxury once they find themselves having to make many tough choices regarding a baby that was not conceived in anything close to ideal circumstances. The misconceptions regarding rape and pregnancies are still incredible ludicrous as made obvious by Representative Todd Akin, when he was asked whether abortions should be allowed for rape victims (Purtilo Ruth, Regina 2016). But let’s assume that maybe that didn 't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child. This type of view leads into the stigmas rape victims face.

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Unfortunately the biggest issues a rape victim must face are the stigmas associated with their victimizations. These come with deep emotional conditions that have many tragic secondary consequences on the victim’s self esteem and readiness to have regular intimate interactions. The second generally prevailing stigma is the family stigma. Family stigmas are where the family members are regularly contentious and unsympathetic in their attitude towards their victimized relatives (Zeman, 2017). Social stigmas are where the reputation of a rape victim is repeatedly admonished and picked apart. This is where the victims are presumed to have warranted or solicited the actions that contributed to the rape (Hiossi, et al., 2006). Teen and adult victims often are asked demeaning and dismissive questions regarding their role in being targeted unlike younger victims are seen as the injured party. Many times the rights of the accused are protected more vigorously than those of their victims (Purtilo Ruth, Regina 2016).
The final aspect that rape victims must face is only recently become available to them and that involves rape victim shield laws (Johnson, Liu, & Burgess, 2019). Rape shield laws were designed to safeguard the victims of sex crimes through the arduous stages developed during criminal proceedings. “With very limited exceptions, they prevent defendants from introducing evidence of victim 's’ sexual behavior, history, or reputation.
In the past half century, the law in every state has evolved to prevent defendants in sex cases from smearing the reputations of alleged victims” (Rape Shield Laws: Protecting Sex-Crime Victims | An accused rapist was traditionally allowed to present the victim 's past sexual history as evidence to a jury to paint the victims as indecent, fast and loose. In court the defendant and their attorneys would mount character attacks to prove theories that the sexual background of the victim was pertinent (Hiossi, et al., 2006). Because if the victim was impure and coarse then their word was put into question and how could they be trusted, therefore their history was admissible. “In the late 1970s into the1980s, states began to protect alleged victims of sex crimes. Lawmakers recognized that victims experienced humiliation and embarrassment when they reported rapes and other sex crimes. The lawmakers also recognized the irrelevancy in regards to a victim’s background, be it in deference to the sexuality, appearance, character or morality for the sake of a criminal sex trial. That means that if the evidence is not at all reasonably related to the charges, then the evidence is merely character evidence, so as not to come in at the trial. The rape shield laws were created just for this cause, to protect and shield those victims who need refuge and sanctuary from the cruelties the rapist and the community continued to try to perpetuate.

Ethical theories

First useful and working ethical theory is Kantianism theory. Kantianism is named after a German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who lived in 1724-1804. According to Kant, the only thing that is good is good will; moreover, the good will builds the whole structure of the society. Kantianism is based on the intent of the action or person’s intention which are the predominant attributes of the good will. The basic principle of Kantianism theory depicts the idea of universal truths. It explains that a moral rule must be universal. Also, it describes that people should be treated with respect. Moreover, it explains the credibility of an action why it is right or wrong and convinces the user with logical reasons. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1603-1679) proposed a Social Contract theory. According to his theory, if there is no rules and laws in a society, then the society will collapse; furthermore, to avoid the miserable situation of collapse of society, people have to agree mutually to follow certain guidelines, rules, and laws. Moral rules have their own importance because they provide the foundation to gain the benefits of the society. He also depicts that everybody living in a civilized society should agree on the establishment of setting moral rules which will be helpful to govern relations among the people. According to him, there should be a capable government who will enforce these rules. He named this set up as the social contract.

Personal Evaluation and Application for Future Use

In order to deal with ethical dilemmas such as this one, it is of the utmost importance that nurses have an understanding of their own morals and values. Nurses must learn how to take care of patients who have different morals. They must learn how also to take care of that patient’s family. Nurses must be able to advocate for their patients and remember to do what is in the best interest for the patient. Conclusively, to prepare the nurses for the ethical dilemmas, ethical education needs to be provided to the nurses. In addition, nurses need to continue with training on ethical dilemmas and on how to solve ethical issues at the workplace. I also believe that future research should be conducted to study the effects of ethical dilemmas on nurses to help better nurses deal with those issues effectively.


1. Zeman, A. (2017). Persistent vegetative state. Lancet, 350(9080), 795.
2. Purtilo B. Ruth, Doherty F. Regina (2016).Ethical Dimensions in the Health professions. Sixth edition
3. Johnson,, L., Liu,, J., and Burgess,, Y. (2019). Home - PMC - NCBI. Retrieved 31 July 2019, from
4. Grubb, A., and Walsh, P. (2016). Survey of British clinicians’ views on management of patients in persistent vegetative state. Lancet, 348(9019), 35.
5. Hiossi, Giuseppe Novic, Kristin Celebrezze, Jennifer u. Thomas, Ronald (2006). source: American journal of obstetrics and gynecology; jul2006, vol. 195 issue 1, p316-322, 7p,

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