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Ethical Principles: Review of the Film Juno

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Juno directed by Jason Ritmen, 2007, is a dramatic/romantic film that portrays the journey of a teenager as she faces the challenges of teenage pregnancy and everyday struggles. The main theme, that is presented in the film is the controversial and ethical dilemma of abortion. For many years now, abortion has been a topic that raises a lot of controversy between different types of religious views, beliefs, cultures, and people. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the ethical principles behind abortion as it relates to the field of nursing.

Summary

It all started with a chair and two teenagers. Juno, who is a 16-year-old discovers she is pregnant after sleeping with her best friend Paulie Bleeker. The idea of having an abortion seemed to be the best fit for Juno who at the moment was not ready to be a mother. However, Juno quickly changes her mind and decides to put the baby up for adoption. While reading a newspaper at the adoption clinic, Juno finds a couple who seemed well suited to take care of her child. She then contacts the family and discusses the adoption. Along the way, Juno faces many challenges that put future adoption in jeopardy.

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Abortion

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, abortion is legally defined as “the termination of pregnancy after, accompanied by, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus especially the medical procedure of inducing expulsion of a human fetus to terminate a pregnancy” (Marriam-Webster’s dictionary,1823). In the United States, abortion is one of the most common procedures performed on women, by the age of 45 at least three in 10 women experienced one abortion (Medoff, 2016). The main philosophical question in the abortion debate circulates the moral status of the embryo and the fetus. There are two sides to the debate. At one end are those who regard abortion as murder which is better known as pro-life supporters. Pro-life supporters view abortion as a hideous crime. On the contrary, at the other end are those who believe that any attempt to restrict abortion is a violation of women’s rights to privacy and self- determination, also known as pro-choice.

Ethical Principles

Autonomy

Autonomy is an ethical principle that means that individuals have the right to self-determination. Adults make decisions about their lives without interference from others. This principle states that competent adults can make their own decisions about their medical care. For instance, in this film viewers can witness Juno finding out that she was pregnant she decides on her own that the best decision was getting an abortion. However, when Juno gets to the abortion clinic, she has a change of mind and decides that adoption would be the best option instead.

Non-Maleficence

The principle of non-maleficence means the duty to do no harm. This is directly tied to the duty of a nurse to protect a patient’s safety. Non- maleficence is shown in the film when Juno decides that she does not want to raise a child in a potentially harmful environment that could be raised by a teen parent. Teens, in general, have other things going on that they should be worrying about such as school, friends, and hormonal changes. This act of non-maleficence ultimately leads to a beneficial outcome in the film which signifies the impact of raising a child in an environment free from harm.

Beneficence

Beneficence is the ethical principle of doing or actively promoting good. In nursing, doing good is thought as of doing what is best for the patient. For example, in the film, Juno decides to give birth to the baby but adopt it out to a married couple. Juno did not just decide on the first couple she saw that wanted to adopt a child, instead, she did her research to ensure that the couple that was going to raise her child was responsible and was going to provide a safe and loving environment for a baby. She made sure to visit the couple’s home and speak to them to see if this was the right decision. By doing this Juno is looking out for the greater good rather than making hasty decisions.

Justice

Justice is the ethical principle of being fair or equal in one’s actions. It is the concept that involves showing fairness, equality, and equitable treatment. Nurses make impartial medical decisions to demonstrate this, whether it is treating an individual regardless of economic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The ethical principle of justice is depicted in the film when Juno decides to continue her pregnancy and give her child to Vanessa, the adopted mother, despite Mark who is the adopted father wanting to divorce Vanessa and defaulting on his responsibility toward the child. Juno decides to support Vanessa that has always wanted to raise a child even though that she was going to be a single mother. Juno knew that her child was still going to be better off with one adult parent rather than two reckless teenage parents. Moreover, Juno kept her word of honor to Vanessa who was always worried that Juno was going to change her mind and not give her the child.

Comparison

In the film, Juno rejects abortion in favor of adoption because she feels as if she is not ready to be a parent. This is portraying Juno as a pro-life supporter in the abortion debate. For instance, when Juno makes her way to the abortion clinic, she encounters a school friend that mentions to her that her baby now has fingernails. This makes Juno reflect on her child’s tiny fingernails which in turn makes her realize that she is carrying inside of her a real person. According to the journal Phenomenology of pregnancy and ethics of abortion, individuals who support the ethics of the pro-life side of abortion, believe that “the embryo is a person from very early on, perhaps even from day one” (Svenaeus, 2017, p.78). Juno affirms the value and dignity of human life by not going through with her abortion.

Impact on nursing

As a nurse, one routinely provides care to patients in ethically challenging situations. According to a study that was published in the article Calculus Formation: Nurses’ Decision-Making in Abortion-Related Care, a sample of 25 nurses who worked in abortion clinics, emergency departments, intensive care units, labor and delivery, operating rooms, and anesthesia were interviewed (McLemore, Kools, & Levi, 2015). Findings from the study suggest that RNs can “concurrently hold two conflicting views/ and or tack back and forth between their personal attitudes and beliefs and professional beliefs and obligations” (McLemore et al., 2015). Also, the study demonstrated a multitude of factors that influence RNs clinical decision making and their relationship to ethically challenging work such as wrestling with oneself and their beliefs about body autonomy, separating themselves from patients, and one of the most important being fear. Nurses fear being judged by others as “abortion-friendly” or not feeling prepared enough to deal with a patient’s emotional spectrum.

Conclusion

All in all, the film Juno addresses the ongoing ethical issue of abortion as well as the ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Ethics and the practice of its principles are integrated into all aspects of providing patient care. In a healthcare facility, nurses must learn how to approach ethical challenging work like abortion. They must adhere to the code of ethics for registered nurses in situations that raise ethical and moral concerns.

References

  • McLemore, M. R., Kools, S., & Levi, A. J. (2015). Calculus Formation: Nurses’ Decision-Making in Abortion-Related Care, 223–231. doi: 10.1002/nur.21655
  • Medoff, M. (2016). Pro-choice Versus Pro-Life: The Relationship Between State Abortion Policy and Child Well-Being in the United States. Health Care for Women International, 158–169. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2013.841699
  • Sisson, G., Ralph, L., Gould, H., & Greene Foster, D. (2016). Adoption Decision Making among Women Seeking Abortion. Women’s Health Issues, 136–144.
  • Svenaeus, F. (2017). Phenomenology of pregnancy and the ethics of abortion. Med Health Care and Philos, 77–87. doi: 10.1007/s11019-017-9786-x

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