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Revista médica de Chile

Print version ISSN 0034-9887


ECHEVERRIA B, Carlos et al. An ethical and medical perspective on the voluntary termination of pregnancy. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2015, vol.143, n.11, pp.1478-1483. ISSN 0034-9887.

“Voluntary termination of pregnancy” can refer to actions intended to make a delivery easier, to provide medical care to the fetus, or to protect the life or health of the mother. All of these are proper medical actions and are by definition voluntary. In other cases, the expression denotes a termination of pregnancy before the embryo or fetus is viable, leading to the death of the latter. This action is constitutive of abortion under current Chilean law. The product of conception living being, who develops in the womb during pregnancy, is an individual, both in the sense that it is different from its mother and father, and in that it is a biological individual. For these reasons, such living being constitutes another patient in itself. The free and voluntary medical action of health care professionals is geared toward disease prevention or health recovery and medical terminations of pregnancy, as distinguished from abortion, are not criminalized in our country. Therefore, the idea of legalizing abortive terminations of pregnancy so that they become “legitimate health care services” is a call to the medical community, which should engage in a debate about the meaning and consequences of an eventual mandate of the State that would be at odds with the Hippocratic tradition. A woman can feel that her health is at risk due to her pregnancy, and she certainly has the right to request medical help. Health professionals should care both at the medical and emotional level for all those who require their services, especially when such persons are undergoing situations of vulnerability and distress. When requested to perform an abortion, the physician faces dilemmas that should be addressed in line with the present state of the medical art.

Keywords : Abortion, legal; Abortion, criminal; Pregnancy, unwanted; Rape; Fetal viability.

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