Abortion - Roman Catholics
An abortion is when a foetus leaves the mother's uterus and dies before it is ready to be born.
Roman Catholics & Evangelical Protestants:
- Believe abortion is never allowed as it is sinful. Only God decides when life ends.
- Might accept it only if the mother's lilfe is in serious danger and there is no other option
- Might join pro-life groups
- Believe every human being has the right to life and life begins at conception
- Teach Sanctity of Life due to the 6th commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."
- God sanctified life by being human as Jesus
- Think an unborn child is in the image of God and He has a plan for this child: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you"
Responses: Nobody can know when ensoulment occurrs. Medical advancements are not covered in the Bible.
Abortion - Others
CofE and Methodists:
- Agree that abortion is evil but think it is OK if it is the lesser of 2 evils
- Allow abortion in some cases when it is the most loving thing to do
- Know that sanctity of life can be broken in war, so it can also be broken for abortion
- Believe that life does not begin until ensoulment and this does not necessarily occur at conception
- Want to "do to others as you would have them do to you"
Responses: How can abortion be a loving act if a child dies? When did war become a good way of justifying things?
- Think abortion can treat life too cheaply, but might try to use the principle of agape (unconditional love) and think what they would want in the same situation.
Fertility treatments are used when people want to conceive, but cannot do so naturally.
- Tend to be against it because it is God's plan for the couple to have no children: "Hannah had no children because the Lord had closed her womb"
- Object to the destruction of 'spare' embryos which they think are human life
- Might say it is right because it brings happiness so is a loving thing to do
- Think it coincides with the way Jesus 'healed those who needed healing' and try to follow his example
Responses: The Bible is too old to give a definitive view on this. God is omnipotent - does this mean he decides when life begins and ends? All Christians may argue that anything involving another's sperm or surrogacy are equivalent to adultery.
Therapeutic or embryo cloning is the production of human embryos in order to gather stem cells for research
- Believe this research is immoral and unnecessary
- Agree that this can undermine our humanity
Responses: Some Christians might, on the other hand, recognise that God gave us the intelligence to come up with this technology. It is a possibility that this research will reduce suffering or extend life for many people. It all depends on how Christians view the embryo.
Euthanasia and Suicide
Euthanasia meand 'good death' because it is the term for helping someone to die.
Voluntary euthanasia: when someone asks for help because they are in pain mentally or physically
Involuntary euthanasia: when someone else decides for the person because they are incapable of asking
Passive euthanasia: nothing is deliberately done to end life, but they may decide to discontinue treatment. This is legal
Active euthanasisa: a person is deliberately helped to die. This is illegal.
Suicide is when someone deliberately takes their own life. It used to be considered a crime, but now people understand that mental illness is normally to blame.
Euthanasia and Suicide - Roman Catholics
- Think Christians should never do anything to hasten death
- Think both passive and active euthanasia is wrong
- Do not permit anyone who committed suicide while sane to be buried in consecrated ground. But there are very few cases of 'sane' suicide
- Teach double effect: If a suffering person needs to be given a drug which will ease pain but hasten death, then this is acceptable
- All of this is based on the 6th commandment ("Thous shalt not kill") and the belief that only God has the right to take away life, because he gave it.
Responses: If a person's illness is incurable and painful, surely euthanasia is the best thing to do as it shortens their suffering. Quakers believe God gave us free will so someone should be allowed to choose when they die.
Euthanasia and Suicide - Other Christians
All Christians believe that suicide and euthanasia are wrong.
- But some believe that for terminally ill people who are in a lot of pain, euthanasia could be the most loving thing to do
- Active euthanasia is less acceptable than passive euthanasia
- Hospices take care of dying people and can be an alternative to euthanasia
- Any action which causes suffering and hastens death is definitely wrong
Suicide used to be viewed as a sin, but now people are sympathetic to the suicidal
- Some Christians may join the Samaritans or similar organisations to help prevent suicide
- When someone attempts and fails to commit suicide, they are not punished, they are helped, and Christians may want to assist with this
Responses: Sometimes suffering is needed to learn lessons. In the Bible, Job and Jesus both suffered, but came out the other end being closer to God.
Also known as vivisection
- believe that animals do not have souls and we do
- believe only humans have a special relationship with God
- believe God gave us 'dominion over' animals and we are stewards of the world. It is unclear whether this means we can do as we please with animals or need to look after them. Animals testing might be abusing this power.
- discourage excessive fuss over animals as it is wrong when there are humans in greater need
- think animals should still be treated with kindness
Responses: If some Christians think we should care for animals, why are they not vegetarian? Some do not eat meat or wear fur and belong to Greenpeace in order to help animals