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Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Beliefs

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The issue of preserving or taking away life is a hotly debated topic that concerns the healthcare industry in many ways because health professionals have both their personal beliefs and professional obligations to fulfill. In nursing, the patient has the right to make decisions that should be respected. According to O’Malley (2013), every human being has the right to live even if he or she is disabled. Pro-life and pro-choice beliefs show great differences influenced by culture, all of which are important to the field of nursing.

The Difference between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Beliefs

As the name suggests, pro-life supporters believe that all life forms have the right to exist. According to O’Malley (2013), life is equal in value and dignity, and no one has the right to terminate it of other individuals, even if it is a newborn or a conceived fetus. Such a thing means that no one has a moral obligation to choose between death and life, which is a violation of human dignity (Lopez, 2012). Contrarily, pro-choice believers put an arbitrary value on life, creating an order, through which some are more suitable to live than others. In this case, the needs of one human can supersede the right to life of other individual (Lopez, 2012). When it comes to abortion, pro-choice followers believe that the termination of life of the unborn fetus is justified and reasonable depending on the underlying circumstances (O’Malley, 2013). In summary, they advocate for sustaining life, but permit its termination for justifiable reasons.

The Role of Culture

Culture plays a huge role in whether communities practice one or both beliefs. For instance, some people use herbs and other substances to prevent or terminate a pregnancy, which is in line with pro-choice believers. For example, the Egyptians used papyrus leaves and many other natural methods to prevent contraception or terminate pregnancies and sometimes removed women’s ovaries (Lopez, 2012). Many other cultures allowed the prevention and termination of pregnancies. For instance, some cases, such as unwanted children in the community who were conceived through rape or considered incest, were not allowed to live. Currently, the western culture allows women to make choices on their lives and go to work, which is contrary to ancient females who lived in their homes and performed domestic duties (Lopez, 2012). Modern women are even encouraged to choose when to conceive and terminate pregnancies, and it is something that hospitals and health professionals have considered in practice. Therefore, culture plays a major role in determining whether to adopt pro-life, pro-choice, or both beliefs.

The Importance of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Debate to Nursing

Nursing is concerned with the implementation of the pro-choice and pro-life beliefs. Professionals struggle between following their beliefs and/or implementing professional duties that include supporting women through the decision-making process of terminating or upholding the life of unborn fetuses, providing quality care during the pregnancy termination process, and delivering contraception care (O’Malley, 2013). Furthermore, nurses should understand scenarios in which they are supposed to uphold or terminate life, including the conduction of abortions. For example, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act of 1990 considers legal abortion when pregnancies are below 24 weeks of gestation, and their continuation increases the risk for a mental or physical injury to women or unborn children (O’Malley, 2013). Therefore, this debate is important to the field of nursing because it influences nurses’ actions on the termination of life when providing care.


Although pro-life and pro-choice beliefs differ, they are influenced by culture and are important to the nursing field. Pro-life followers believe that life should be upheld at whatever costs, while pro-choice supporters consider that it should be saved, but it can be terminated if there are justifiable reasons. Culture affects these beliefs, including what people should practice. Furthermore, these views are important to nursing because nurses implement them following their professional requirements, which may contradict their personal beliefs.


Lopez, R. (2012). Perspectives on abortion: Pro-choice, pro-life, and what lies in between. European Journal of Social Sciences, 27(4), 511-517.

O’Malley, C. M. (2013). Legal and ethical issues concerning pro-life choices. The Journal of Undergraduate Nursing Writing, 6(1), 45-51.