Law Vs. Ethics Essay

1788 words - 7 pages

The conflict between law and ethics has been a topic of debate since time immemorial. Today, the debate rages on especially with the issues like abortion, euthanasia, gay marriages which highlight the contention between ethics and law. Is it ethically justified to administer euthanasia to a suffering person who his family or the patient requests for it? Is abortion ethically justified because it is legal? Is gay marriage illegal and wrong because the society and the law say so? These among many are just few examples of the many conflicts that surround law and ethics and they are yet to be answered as the debate rages on. Nowadays, many people take it for granted that law and ethics are entwined. In fact, the two concepts are substantially different, and have been at odds in many situations. Law is defined as a set of universal and reliable rules that are usually published, generally accepted, and enforced. These rules are set to govern the behaviors of people in the society in addition to defining what is to be done. On the other hand, ethics is the principle that governs what is morally good or wrong. As much as law and ethics are totally different, there is a relationship between the two.
There is a relationship between law and ethics. In some cases, ethics and law overlap because, what is perceived as unethical is also illegal. In other occasions, they do not overlap because, what is considered to be ethical can be illegal and what is considered to be legal can be unethical. A behavior can be considered to be ethical, but according to the law, the behavior is illegal. Legal and ethical principles are generally closely related, but ethical obligations typically surpass the legal duties.
The conflict between law and ethics comes up, when we are faced to choose between doing what is right, and what is legal. In many situations, we are never legally compelled to act in certain ways because, certain situations demands one to act in the right way to save a situation. There are situations whereby one can act to save a situation or a life, yet it is legally wrong to do so. This situation mostly is encountered in the medical profession. Many confusing factors make it an uphill task to ascertain, sustain, and monitor legal and ethical issues in the nursing profession (Scales, 2009). Many medical practitioners are always caught between law and ethics while dealing with their patients. In a more extreme way, some laws may not allow a nurse to perform a certain procedure or administer certain medication to patients, because according to the law, it is illegal and this makes the conflict more complex.
The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics is very influential to the nursing profession (Michael, 2014). The ANA is used as a framework of making ethical decisions that pertains to all health issues. The ANA is based on ethics, morals, values, and principles in which its Code of Ethics is formatted on. According to the ANA Code of Ethics, nurses should...

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