Unit B603 - Religion and Medical Ethics - OCR

My notes for Christianity and medical ethics

Hope they help

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RS ­ Medical Ethics ­ Answers
1. Sanctity of Life refers to the belief that human life is sacred and as such it is special:
Life is sacred
Only God can choose when life ends
Life should be protected
Life is God given
All life deserves respect
2. For Christians, human life is different because we share something of the nature of God:
Genesis describes how God made Adam, and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7)
Genesis also says that people are made in the "image of God" (Genesis 1:26). This means that people are in some ways
reflections of God. In humans, something of God himself can be seen. Christians believe that humans have a soul which
lives on after the body has died. Because of this, they must be treated as special.
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's Temple and that God's spirit lives in you" (1 Corinthians 3:16)
"Do not kill" (Exodus 20:13)
3. God makes and loves each person, so everyone has value. So Christians should treat all human life with respect. Some
Christians become doctors or nurses because of their Christian faith: they want to put into practise their beliefs about the value
of human life. Because God has given life, this means that Christians have a responsibility to take care of themselves. They
should do something useful with their lives, not just waste it and they should take care of their own health and other peoples.
Some Christians, therefore will not smoke, overeat, drink or take drugs, because it shows ungratefulness for God's gift of life.
4. Abortion is the premature expulsion of the foetus from the womb:
Procured abortion ­ deliberate abortion
Natural abortion ­ miscarriage
5. Abortion Act 1967 ­ A woman could have an abortion up to 28 weeks of a pregnancy. This was because if the baby was born
at 28 weeks, it had a good chance of survival. But as medical techniques advanced, babies could survive even if they were born
earlier. Therefore in 1990, there was the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act where abortion was lowered to 24 weeks;
unless the foetus was severely disabled in which case the foetus could be aborted up to 40 weeks.
6. There are three main methods of abortion:
Pill ­ up to 6 weeks
Vacuum Aspiration ­ up to 12 -14 weeks
Saline Injection ­ up to 24 weeks
7. The Bible says very little about abortion because it was not as common as today. The Bible does not use the word "abortion"
or deal with the issues directly, but Christians use Bible passages both for and against abortion:
Against Abortion:
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart" (Jeremiah 1:5)
God has a plan for every human even before they are born
"Before I was born, the Lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant" (Isaiah 49:1)
"You saw me before I was born" (Psalm 139:16)
These help support the idea that life begins at conception, or at the very least, that the foetus is a person. Once Christians
establish that the foetus is a human being, the sanctity of life teachings all apply
For Abortion:
"If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way,
the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman's husband demands... but if the woman herself is
injured, the punishment shall be life for life." (Exodus 21:22-25)
This suggests that causing the death of an unborn child is not as serious as killing someone who is already born.
"If a man does not get his share of happiness... then I say a baby born dead is better off. It does that baby no good to be
born." (Ecclesiastes 6:3-5)
"But better off are those who have never been born, who have never seen the injustice that goes on in the world."
(Ecclesiastes 4:3)
These can be used to show that abortion is better than being born into a life of suffering, e.g. unwanted babies
8. Roman Catholic Church: Abortion is always wrong. Life begins at conception, therefore abortion is murder:
Unborn child is a sacred human life; it deserves the same respect as any other human being
Rape ­ RC Church does not support abortion ­ the foetus is paying for someone else's crime
"Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception; abortion and infanticide are the most
abominable of crimes." (Second Vatican council ­ Encyclical Gaudium et Spes)

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However, the Catholic Church will accept abortion in the case of double effect, whereby your intention was to save the
mother's life: the double effect was terminating the pregnancy.
It is more agape to allow everyone the chance at life.…read more

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Euthanasia allows people to die with dignity. They do not have to face dreadful debilitating illnesses that dehumanise us.
Euthanasia can help to shorten the grief and suffering of the patient's loved ones
Euthanasia can be the most loving action, and the best way of putting Christian love into practise.
Euthanasia should not be legalised:
Euthanasia is murder. It is against the Ten Commandments as God said "Thou shall not kill."
If Euthanasia was legalised we would be on the slippery slope towards Compulsory Euthanasia.…read more


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