- Created by: samiyah1234
- Created on: 05-01-20 16:53
Sanctity of life
This is the idea that life is sacred and had a God-given purpose. It should be treated with respect and should be preserved.
Genesis 1:27 'The lord created humans in his image' As life is a gift from God and we are like God, we should treat it with respect and should not intervene with God's will eg. ending a human life is what God has the power for so humans should not do this.
Our society believes that there may be some exceptions to the SOL:
-Our modern technology is very advanced eg. life support machines can be taken off.
-It is very inflexible
-The quality of life for others may be different.
Natural law would agree with the SOL as life should be preserved and in the secondary precept, it says we should not murder or abort. In Situation Ethics it says we should do the most loving in a situation so it may not always agree with the SOL. Utilitarianism says we should do the greatest good for the greatest number.
Quality of life
This is the idea that the person's overall wellbeing is a significant factor in making medical or life and death decisions.
Singer rejects SOL as he says that it is dependent on an outdated Christian view of ethics. QOL shows that in some circumstances it is better to end a life than preserve it as the QOL of a person may be poor and would be lore loving to end the life rather than allowing them to live.
Singer also rejects the special value humans have as saying we are more valued than any other living thing on this earth.
Medical knowledge has advanced in situations that would kill people previously. However, is it right to preserve this kind of life?
Glover argues that a universal moral system is impossible to achieve. He says that modern science can keep humans alive when they should have died but they would live a poor quality of life so he accepts euthanasia.
When referring to a 'person' it is referring to someone who has these characteristics:
- ability to use language
Being capable and rational of though are things that have been indicated by Fletcher for personhood.
Here it argues whether a person is still a person if they no longer have some of these certain characteristics for example. consciousness.
Singer said a person is a person if they have a form of consciousness which enables them to feel pain or pleasure. So a foetus under 23 weeks is not a person but animals are a person as they can feel pain and pleasure. This, therefore, suggests abortion before 23 weeks is acceptable as it is not classed as a person so it won't be morally wrong to abort.
However, religious believers believe in dualism where the body and soul are one so the soul is implanted at conception so it is wrong to abort.
Evaluation of personhood
x People with severe disabilities mean they are not a person as they cannot fulfill some of the criteria which fits for being a person.
x Bentham said that animals are sentient beings yet they are killed for food so it is illogical for a foetus not to be killed as they are not sentient beings but it is acceptable to kill animals which are sentient beings.
-Singer and Toole argue that humans have self-consciousness whereas a foetus only has consciousness. Singer says a foetus may experience pain but would not understand it which proves that they only have consciousness. Scans don't show that they feel pain but it goes for newborn babies and people in comas too.
In the UK, research can only be done on embryos 14 days after fertilisation. After that, this is when a person starts to develop.
Embryonic stem cell research is important as it can cure genetic diseases and other long term illnesses.
Also, couples who have fertility problems can use IVF. More than one embryo is used to increase the chances of fertilisation. The rest of the embryos would be thrown away if they are not put to use.
PGD is removing a cell from an embryo and screening it for any genetic disorders and the parents can decide whether to continue with the pregnancy or discard the embryo.
Embryonic stem cells are very useful as they can differentiate into any cell whereas adult stem cells such as in the blood of the umbilical cord can only specialise into certain cells.
Natural law rejects embryo research as it involves procreation outside of marriage and sex and it defies the natural process of creating a baby.
An embryo should be treated as a person so IVF and PGD are things that should not be done.
An abortion can take place before 24 weeks of conception in the UK and can be performed if it results in a risk to the mother or baby.
Religious people would be against abortion as:
- Only God has the right to decide when to take life away
- Each person has been given a gift of life from God so should treat it with respect
In Islam, abortion is not punishable if it is done in the first 120 days only if the mother's life is at risk or the baby.
Pro-choice is the women deciding whether or not to have an abortion. The foetus is part of her body.
However, the issue of personhood arises. The foetus may be a person and whether the foetus has rights so it has to balance against the rights of the mother.
More on Abortion
Thomas gives an argument on a violinist being plugged into your body so that he can live. He says that you can unplug yourself because the right to life doesn't mean using another person's body. Similarly, a foetus right to life is not violated but it is just deprived of something which is the use of a pregnant woman's body.
Another argument by Tooley is the use of a cat. He said if you inject a cat with human attributes and you kill a normal cat and this cat, there is nothing morally wrong with killing both. Similarly killing a foetus is not morally wrong as both of these only have potential.
However, it is still morally wrong to kill a kitten unnecessarily and same with a foetus. It is also morally wrong to stop something from being realised.
This means 'good death' and is also called mercy killing. The suffering a person can feel may cause physical and mental suffering.
It is taken in two forms:
- Active (voluntary) euthanasia and this is where they ask to take it and is a form of assisted suicide.
- Passive (involuntary) euthanasia is where someone else judges a person's situation as poor and ends their life for them.
From the sanctity of life, as life is sacred and is a gift from God and only God has the power to end our lives, it would be wrong to take the job of God and would be going against his will.
You can say a person is no longer a person if they are brain dead but, if they are on life support and still living, they still are a human.
Christians believe there's a purpose for suffering as it makes you a stronger character and can be seen as a punishment from God for disobeying him.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 1
good or bad medical practice?
The BMA thinks euthanasia should stay illegal because it is the duty of a doctor to preserve life rather than kill it and they took the Hippocratic oath so it would be wrong. Without regulation society would allow murder and the moral code of a person will be unworkable.
Moral crisis in liberal societies
Natural law won't be sustained as it would go against the primary precept of preservation of life.
A more liberal society argues against SOL as it is more of a liberal approach to suicide.
Not only is society becoming more secular, SOL and secular approach has the problem of technology. Technology is becoming more complex.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 2
three moral principles
Is passive euthanasia really euthanasia? This is because they are not doing anything to save them but not actively killing them.
acts and omissions
An omission is not doing anything. Eg. seeing a child drown in the pond but not doing anything to save them is an omission.
Can we really be responsible for doing nothing?
Indirect killing is still a form of murder and withholding treatment is still wrong.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 3
Double effect is about a positive action leading to negative like ectopic pregnancies where mother is saved by baby is gone.
ordinary and extraordinary means
Refusing food and water is a form of suicide for roman catholics but refusing surgery is acceptable as it is within their rights to choose.
Proportionalism is what Bernard Hoose made and is a middle way between situation ethics and Natural Law. It will allow things Natural law won't allow.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 4
Weak SOL says that where death is certain to happen, the doctor must treat the patient with love or compassion and to kill goes against the doctor's responsibility to the patient.
law and morality
law is not in itself a moral guideline. Each person has their own preferences which leads to greatest happiness.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 5 and 6
The BMA states that doctors have a duty to provide patients with a peaceful and dignified death with minimal suffering.
The case for legalising euthanasia
In the UK, personal autonomy in attempting suicide is fine but any third party involvement is against the law.
1961 suicide act makes it illegal to assist people in death.
This page is just about different countries legalising and making it illegal.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 7
objections to legalising euthanasia
The slippery slope argument is that when someone finds a loophole in the law, someone will exploit it. It can also have the best of intentions but give the most undesirable consequences.
Helga Kuhdr uses the wedge argument to show support for banning euthanasia. She uses the non voluntary active euthanasia the nazis performed on people and says that this was just due to racial prejudice.
When legalising euthanasia, people will have less free will as more people will rely on it.
Taking away patient autonomy is violating the rights of society.
Euthanasia Extract summary page 8
Law has a huge impact on the way we think and what we consider to be acceptable so, doctors fear the legalisation of euthanasia will bring a profound change on societys attitudes to euthanasia.
It would become more acceptable if it was made legal.
It would also change our whole views on doctors as they took the hippocratic oath yet they are assisting with killing people. It would make life less worthy and the SOL would decrease.
It would make people think it is acceptable and many would want to do it and can take it for silly reasons.
Can lead to an elitist society and make the young, fit and healthy more desirable.
Can make people greed by killing off elderly and inheriting their portion.