Abortion in modern health care: Considering the issues for health-care professionals

Dawn Smyth, Paula Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the challenging and contentious issue of abortion and its ethical, legal and political significance regarding public health. It is intended as an educational guide for health-care professionals. A comprehensive search strategy of international health, law and political source materials was undertaken in order to benchmark from international approaches to abortion. Test cases illustrate the application of legislation, ethical, political and cultural issues surrounding abortion. Abortion is a complex contemporary issue where balancing the well-being of both the mother and the unborn has prompted considerable international discourse. The right to life of the woman and the unborn continues to lie in tension. Ambiguity surrounds the concept of personhood, and the inception of human life prevails across many International jurisdictions. Health-care professionals must be well informed in order to respond safely and appropriately to a diverse range of clinical scenarios in which decisions regarding abortion are required. Research and evidence of test cases will better inform how abortion issues evolve and are managed. Ultimately, the abortion debate requires a balance between legislation and clinical governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2016


  • Abortion
  • Clinical dilemmas
  • Personhood
  • Public health
  • Right to life


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