Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies - Matters of Life and Death

Matters of life and death

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Key Words

  • Sanctity of life - The belief that life is holy and comes as a gift from God.
  • Abortion - The removal of a foetus from the womb before it can survive.
  • Quality of life - The idea that life must feel like it is worth living.
  • Euthanasia - bringing about a premature, but painless and gentle death.
  • Voluntary Euthanasia - ending life painlessly when someone in great pain requests death.
  • Non-Voluntary Euthanasia - ending someones life painlessly in their best interest when they are not able to request death themselves due to illness ect..
  • Assisted suicide - Helping a seriously ill person to commit suicide.
  • Near-death experiences - When someone about to die has an out of body experience.
  • Paranormal - unexplained things that are thought to have spiritual causes e.g ghosts, mediums.
  • Reincarnations - when souls, after death, are reborn into a new body.
  • Resurrection - when after death, the body stays in the grave untill the end of the world, when it is then raised.
  • immortality of the soul - The idea that the soul lives on after death.
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The Sanctity of life

Christians belife that life is precious because God gave it. Therefore, only God has the right to take it. In the Bible it states that 'God created Humans in his own image' and that 'The lord God formed man and breathed into him'. Christians belive in the teachings of God, and the teachings of God are contained in the bible, therefore Christians should belive this.

Where does the sanctity of life apply?
Suicide:We belong to God, Life isn't ours to take.
Abortion:God creates life while it is in the womb, it is not ours to take.
Euthanasia:We must preserve and respect life, not destroy it.
War:Can taking a life ever be justified? 

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Life: When does it begin?

Many people belive life starts at different points. These are:

  • Conception - when the sperm meets the egg.
  • Heartbeat - When the heart starts to beat around week 9 of the pregnancy.
  • Viable - when the baby is able to survive outside the womb. Around week 24 of the pregnancy.
  • When the baby is born - Usually 40 weeks into the pregnancy.

The Law & abortion
The 1967 'Abortion Act' states 2 doctors must agree that one of the following is true:

  • The mothers life is at risk
  • The mothers physical or mental health may be at risk
  • The wellbeing of an existing child may be at risk due to the arrival of another child
  • There is a substantial risk the child may be born seriously handicapped.
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Abortion - who's rights?

Pro-Choice (Pro-abortion) - The belife that woman should be the person to decide as its her body.

  • A woman should not be forced to go through with an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Stopping abortions would make woman turn to illegal 'back street' clinics.

Pro-life (Anti-abortion) - In favour of protecting the life of a featus. The belife that life begins at conception.

  • The foetus is a living growing thing. To destroy it would be the same as killing it.
  • True 'choice' would consider the choice the baby and father might make.
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Christian views on abortion

For (under certain circumstances) Methodist & Quakers

  • The sanctity of life can be broken in justifiable circumstances such as war. Why not justify abortion.
  • If a Girl is ***** she would be reminded of it everytime she looked at her child. it may affect her mental health.
  • Jesus taught us to love out neighbour. Abortion may be the most loving thing to do in certain situations. e.g deformities, quality of life...

Against (Under any circumstances) Catholics & Evangelicals

  • Every person has a 'right to life'. Taking away that life is to deny that right and the potential of that human life.
  • Life begins at conception. Not at birth or any other point in pregnancy.
  • Life is holy and belongs to god, only god has the right to take away a life.
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An act of bringing about an easy and painless death.It is mainly seen as a release for those suffering with an incurable disease, or those who are in a perminant vegetative state (not able to do anything for themselves).

Within the Uk, there is no law that directly talks about euthanasia. However, the act of taking a life is seen as, and dealt in the say way as a murder. The Suicide act says that 'a person who aids, abets, counsels  or procures the suicide is liable to imprisonment for up tp 14 years'.

Types of Euthanasia:

  • Voluntary euthanasia - carried out at the request and with the full knowledge and consent of the person who dies. 
  • Non-Voluntary euthanasia - The ending of a life of a person in their best interest when they are incapable of giving permission themselves.
  • Assisted Suicide - When an individual is unable to take their own life (eg due to paralysis) so is helped by another person to do so.
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Euthanasia 2

There are 2 types of Euthanasia.

  • Active euthanasia - A direct act of a doctor or other to end the life of an individual. e.g. Giving a patient an overdose of pain killers such as morphine.
  • Passive euthanasia - where treatment that would help a person live longer is stopped with the idea that it will end a life. e.g Turning of a life support machine.

Under certain circumstances, Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Switzerland and some parts of Australia.

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Arguments for and against Euthanasia


  •  Helping a person to end their suffering is the most loving thing to do.
  • God has given us the right to think for ourselves, therefore we should have the right to choose.
  • People should be allowed to die in dignity
  • People don't want to be a burden on their families and friends
  • Keeping someone alive with medication and machines could go against Gods wishes for them to die.


  • Life comes from God, Only he has the right to give and take it. 'The Sanctity of life'
  • Suffering can help people feel closer to god and help them understand what Christ went through.
  • Allowing euthanasia could become a cover up for abuse. E.g Murder, diagnosed as euthanasia.
  • There is nothing dignified about taking a persons life.
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This is great these are the keywords I need to learn aswell thank you :-)

♥ Secret - Team GR


this is GREAT.. thnx !

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