Does obstetric ethics have any role in the obstetrician's response to the abortion controversy? Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Finger Injuries
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures
  • Surgical Flaps


  • Obstetric ethics are a part of medical ethics and as such they are a secular discipline. To this end the abortion controversy cannot be solved in any theological manner for the obstetrician. To understand abortion in terms of obstetric ethics it must be understood that as a doctor, the primary obligation is to the patient. Now the question arises, when is a fetus a patient? Viable fetuses are patients, nonviable fetuses are not patients, regardless of their gestational age, unless the women grants such status. When the fetus is not a patient the response to the abortion question is clear. However when the fetus is a patient, after viability, then abortion in almost all cases it is unethical. The distinction between professional ethics and private ethics is important because without it obstetricians could be put in a situation where fulfilling the professional obligation to their patient could compromise the private or religious morality. This ethical view about abortion being patient dependent has implications for resident training programs. It is the view of obstetric ethics that doctors should not perform abortions in residency if it is against their personal conviction.

publication date

  • January 1990



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0002-9378(90)90600-C

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1425

end page

  • 9


  • 163


  • 5 PART 1