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Moral Obligation and Legal Duty - Essay Example

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Medical law Laws are a conglomerate of principles and rules with respect to all matters of life which the authorities formulate for the standardization of limits within which individuals in the society can perform. Unlike morality, someone makes laws1. Individuals are bound to respect the laws or they incur financial and/or other kinds of liabilities…
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Moral Obligation and Legal Duty
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Download file to see previous pages “A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions and moral values. Behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error”2. Laws are primarily meant to safeguard the moral values of the nation, but this itself raises a number of challenges for the law-making agencies given the morals of a society alter with time depending upon the demands of the time. Coleridge said, “It would not be correct to say that every moral obligation involves a legal duty; but every legal duty is founded on a moral obligation. A legal common law duty is nothing else than the enforcing by law of that which is a moral obligation without legal enforcement”3. This paper reviews the English medical laws other than the law of clinical negligence with an intent to evaluate whether the extent to which the enforcers of these laws see a moral obligation to their duties. For this, the issues discussed include abortion and euthanasia. If they do so, that would mean that their legal duties are founded on moral obligations. In the last, the recent development of the law of human rights is commented upon from the standpoint of the very issue. Different theories of abortion have emerged over the years. Many people claim that abortion is morally justified since it is a legal procedure. “There is a subtle type of argumentation here that basically is saying that if it is legal, it is moral; and if it is legal and moral, then it is immoral to oppose it”4. A woman who involves herself in sex voluntarily and without the use of contraceptives, she in a way signs a bond with the fetus. “A contract entails the demonstrated existence of a reasonably (and reasonable) free will. If the fulfillment of the obligations in a contract between individuals could be life-threatening – it is fair and safe to assume that no rational free will was involved”5. But a pregnancy happens as a result of rape or forced sex, it is morally feasible to terminate it since the mother never entered the contract willingly, thus rendering it invalid. This in turn justifies all measures taken to terminate the pregnancy before it reaches the stage when doing so would threaten the life of the mother. Judith Jarvis Thomson considers abortion impermissible but not on the grounds that most anti-abortionists base their claims on6 Abortion is not wrong because fetus is a human being and has a right to live, but it is impermissible because a woman carrying her pregnancy to term displays good samaritanism. From a moral standpoint, a woman that carries pregnancy to term generously takes care of the fetus by undergoing pain and labor while the fetus has the needs but not the rights but a woman, who terminates the pregnancy does not show this generosity and accordingly, does not take care of the needs of the fetus. “It is not the case that abortion violates the requirements of morality, therefore, but rather that continuing to incur the burdens involved in pregnancy goes beyond them”7. A woman’s ethical obligation to the fetus is inevitable irrespective of whether the abortion is legalized or not in a certain country8. One woman’s decision to terminate the pregnancy has a number of social implications, which challenges the perception that it is only ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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