Christian Medical Ethics

GCSE Short Course(and full course) RE Christianity

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Q. What is the Sanctity of Life?

A. The belief that human life is sacred and that when God created people he gave them something special that set them apart from other animals; some say this is the soul.  It links to the beliefs that God gave life and only God has the right to take it away, and the belief that God has a person’s life mapped out, or planned, and that it is wrong to interfere with this by taking life away.


Q. Which of the Ten Commandments might Christians refer to when talking about abortion or Euthanasia?

A. “Do not Kill.”

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Q. True or False? Christians believe that life is sacred because people are made in the ‘image of God’ and this means each person is unique and known to God.

A. True.


Q. How does such a belief affect Christian attitudes towards abortion, Euthanasia and fertility treatments that result in the disposal of unused embryos?

A. They would be opposed to these.

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Q. Does the Church of England say that having an abortion is right?

A. No, they say it should be avoided at all costs (they also believe life is sacred) but in some situations do allow it.

Q. In what situations does the Church of England allow abortion?

A. If the foetus threatens the life of the mother, if the woman has been ***** and if the child would be born with a severe disability (some Churches even allow abortion for social reasons such as poverty).  

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Q. How does the Church of England justify supporting abortion?

A. They argue that it is the ‘lesser of two evils’ in cases where having the baby would cause great suffering.  They follow the Bible which says “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7: 12).  This means they should imagine how they would want to be treated in such circumstances. They may also say that the main message of Christianity is love (following the example of Jesus) and in some cases allowing abortion is the most loving thing to do.

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Q. What is Euthanasia?

A. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘easy’ or ‘gentle death’. It refers to the situation where a person is helped to die and has requested such action as a result of a terminal illness (an illness which will kill them eventually) which is causing them great suffering and pain.

Q. What might Christians suggest as an alternative to Euthanasia?

A. Going to a Hospice where they will be given a peaceful and painless death; known as palliative care.

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Q. Give as many reasons as you can that explain why   many Christians are opposed to Euthanasia.

A. It goes against the sanctity of life (in 1995 the Pope said it was a “grave violation of the law of God.”), it interferes with God’s plan for that person’s life, it goes against the Ten Commandments, life is a gift from God and should be respected, suffering can strengthen faith and is there for a purpose, God gives life and only God should be able to take it away, and helping the sick teaches compassion and people will be judged on how they cared for those who were in need.

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Q. When do Catholics think life begins?

A. At conception (when the sperm meets the egg).

Q. Do all Christians believe that life begins at conception?

A. No. Some say that the foetus cannot be described as person until it can be recognised as such.  Some say it can be recognised as person when it first moves (14 weeks), others say it is a person when it can survive on its own (22 weeks).

Q. Why would a Catholic say abortion is wrong?

A. Because all life is sacred and a gift from God (The Sanctity of life).

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Q. Would Catholics allow an abortion if the women had been *****?

A. No because they say that it is unfair for the foetus to have to pay the price for someone else’s crime.

Q. What advice might a Catholic give to someone who wants an abortion?

A. Not to do it and seek an alternative solution, e.g. adoption.

Q. What is the only situation in which a Catholic would allow abortion?

A.  When having the abortion will mean saving the life of the mother.

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Q. How might the Jesus’ example affect Christian attitudes towards fertility treatment?

A. They might support the use of fertility treatment because Jesus healed people wherever possible and fertility treatment could be seen as healing too.

Q. Why else might Christians allow fertility treatment?

A. It isn’t mentioned in the Bible so people should be allowed to follow their conscience, people should treat people how they want to be treated and Christians believe that God is love and therefore they should act in the most loving way possible.

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Q. True or False? Christians believe that animals have no soul.

A. True

Q. Why might Christians support animal research?

A. Because humans are God’s most important creation and animal research could save human life.  The Bible says that animas were made for humans to control and rule.

Q. True or False? Christians believe it doesn’t matter if animals suffer a lot as long as it helps humans?

A. False, suffering should be minimised.

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Q. Why might Christians be against animal research?

A. Because humans have a special responsibility to care for God’s creation and not to abuse it.

Q. True or False? Roman Catholic teaching says that it is wrong to pamper pets while there are people starving in the world.

A. True.

Q. What is the Church of England’s view towards animal testing?

A. It is necessary to help humans but people should be responsible stewards and minimise animal suffering.  

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Q. Why might Christians be opposed to suicide?

A. They say it shows lack of faith in God and is a mortal sin; this means the person goes straight to hell.

Q. Give as many reasons as you can that explain why   some Christians are opposed to fertility treatment.

A. Catholics believe God decides whether someone will have children or not, some treatments create spare embryos that have to be destroyed and this goes against the sanctity of life, and Christianity takes the view that a loving relationship should involve only two people; some fertility treatment introduces a third person to the relationship.

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Q. What is the doctrine of double effect?

A. The Catholic teaching that says treatment can be given to ease suffering even if a side effect is death. For example it is acceptable to give a terminally ill cancer patient large doses or morphine to ease their suffering even if the double effect of this means they die quicker.

Q. What type of Euthanasia do some Christians allow?

A. Passive Euthanasia. They say there is nothing in the Bible saying people should be kept alive at all costs; stopping treatment is different to active killing.

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