Abortion on Demand, as a midcourse for ethical responsibility of governments

Işil Ülman F. Y.

27th European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care, Basel, Switzerland, 14 - 17 August 2013

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Basel
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Acibadem Mehmet Ali Aydinlar University Affiliated: Yes


27th European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care 

Basel, Switzerland,  August 14-17, 2013




Abortion on Demand, as a midcourse for ethical responsibility of governments


Yesim Isil Ulman, PhD[1]

The beginning of life issues cover, paradoxically, the ethical deliberation regarding the values about ending life. The discussions focus on decision-making concerned with the termination of prenatal life. The debates question the status, the identity of the embryo and fetus, vis-à-vis woman’s right to self-determination and fulfill her free will on her own body as an autonomous individual. It is undeniable that the fetus has potential to be born as a human being, if not intervened. The conflict between the woman’s right to decide on her own body and the status of the embryo as a potentiality to evolve into a human being, has not been solved. The legal limit for abortion on demand seems to be a midcourse of action to support both the autonomy of the woman by enabling her to make decision on her own future and also to protect the fetus on the basis of the value of life after a certain period of time in the womb.

Abortion on demand is ethically indispensable to prevent the maternal mortality due to the unlawful abortion and to assure the life of fetus. The Abortion Act (Nufus Planlamasi Hakkinda Kanun) in Turkey has provided the legal basis of this ethical conflict by guiding both the couples and the health professionals since it was enacted in 1983. The scientific data confirm that not only the maternal mortality has gone down, but also education on the family planning and on contraception methods have improved considerably since the Law was ratified.

This paper attempts to take up the matter in the perspective of value of life and the idea human rights by taking into consideration of recent arguments and legal amendments carried out in Turkey, by giving emphasis to right to health, women’s health, right to reproduction, right to privacy and right to self-determination.

Key Words: Abortion, right to health, right to reproduction, reproductive health, ethical implications.

Referential Sources

·       Turkish Bioethics Association’s Statement on the Beginning of Life (Abortion and Curettage), 2012

·       Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, ed: Beuchamp, L Walters, J Kahn, A Mastroianni, 7th edition, Wadsworth 2008.

·       A Companion to Bioethics, ed: H Kuhse, P Singer, Wiley-Blackwell 3rd ed., 2012.

·      The Cambridge Textbook of Bioethics, ed: P Singer, AM Viens, Cambridge, NY 2008

[1] Yesim Isil Ulman, MA, MSc, PhD. Prof. of Medical History and Ethics, Acibadem Univ. School of Medicine

Istanbul – Turkey / yesimul@yahoo.com