Medical Ethics


HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 13-05-12 18:50

Sanctity of Life

  • Genesis: "So God created man in his own image"
  • Corinthians: " Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you?"
  • "You shall not murder" Exodus
  • Sanctity of life: the belief that there is something special and holy about human life because God created everything
  • Xians believe each person has a soul which lives on after death, can be judged by God and join God is heaven forever
  • God plans each human life, which has a purpose
  • Xians think we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and each other, because God gave all of us lives
  • We (humans) do not have the right to decide when a life ends, or prevent the beginning of a new life
1 of 14


  • Abortion: The deliberate termination of a foetus in the mother's womb
  • Abortion made legal in the UK in 1967 – mainly to stop backstreet abortions.
  • Pro-choice: a woman's right to choose
  • Pro-life: abortion is always wrong - the foetus is genetically unique
  • RC: Sanctity of life, abortion is murder - life begins at conception
  • "Do not kill" Exodus- embryos have full status of human
  • The Pope has said it is wrong and sinful: each baby is a gift 
  • Against Natural Moral Law: Only OK is to save Mother's life (double effect)
2 of 14

Abortion - Other Christians

  • C of E: against it, "go forth and multiply" but recognises suitable cases e.g. ****, disability
  • The Didache - "You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb"
  • Methodist: Abortion is evil, but could be the lesser of two evils - SITUATION ETHICS
  • Society of Friends - the life of the unborn child cannot be valued above that of the woman
  • Two Doctors must agree - must consider the quality of the life of the Mother, The unborn child and any children already in the family
  • The stage of  pregnancy is 24 weeks or under AGAPE
3 of 14

Islam - Abortion

  • "And do not kill your children...Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin" Qur'an 17.31 - Abortion is not welcomed, although there are circumstances in which abortion may be permissible
  • Muslims don't believe that the foetus is fully human until ensoulment has occurred - Most scholars of Islam placed this date between 40-120 days
  • However, all Muslims believe that the foetus is "alive" from conception
  • Some schools of Islam allow abortion before 120 days if there is a serious reason for it, i.e. the foetus is seriously ill, or a product of ****
  • Other Muslim authorities believe that abortion is always wrong 
  • If the mother's life is in danger, abortion is seen as lawful
  • The potential life in the womb is not as important as the life of the mother
  • The loss of the unborn child is seen as a lesser evil than the loss of the mother, who has other children and a husband to care for
  • Some Muslim women argue that they should be free to choose 
  • In the Qur'an it says that unborn children will want to know why
4 of 14

Fertility Treatment

  • When someone who cannot have a baby naturally has medical help to produce a child
  • IVF is In-vitro fertilisation where the egg is fertilised in a test tube and one or two are implanted into the mother's womb
  • It allows old people to have children - fair?
  • Some Xians: acceptable, brings happiness to those who can't have children
  • Others: WRONG, God chooses whether people have children
  • RCs: goes against Natural Moral Law and Sanctity of Life
  • It allows homosexual couples to have children
  • AID is seen as adultery and masturbation is used to get semen - sin
  • Spare embryos are produced, and are experimented/killed
  • RCs view embryos as people - "Do not murder " Exodus
  • RC - AIH permissible, although still unnatural + masturbation
  • RC - IVF WRONG - spare embryos
  • Can break both 6th and 7th commandments
5 of 14

Fertility Treatment 2.0

  • God is omniscient, and may have other plans... MWAH HA HA etc
  • Life is from God :- anything that creates life is also good
  • Agape - the most loving thing to do
  • "Be fruitful and multiply" God wants people to have children, in any way
  • Marriage is for the rearing of children
  • Anglican: The rights of an embryo should be observed after 14 days - it can be experimented on up to 14 days
  • God's decision - Hannah - "Because the Lord had closed her womb" Samuel
  • Not fair on child
  • RC - no if IVF creates spare embryos
  • RC- doesn't approve of masturbation for AID
  • Anglican - AID interferes with the sanctity of marriage - AIH :)
  • Adoption can be seen as a kinder alternative - less sadness - L thy N
  • Surrogacy: OT - Sarah allowed Abraham to sleep with her servant and God approved
6 of 14

Fertility Treatment: Islam and Judaism


  • Men can have up to 4 wives, so this can solve the problem of infertility in women for the family, but not for the individual woman, and polygamy is not as common in the West
  • Division within Islam - it is Allah's will etc BUT infertility is a disease, and Allah has given us the resources to "cure" it
  • AID = adultery AIH = acceptable
  • Embryo destruction is not a problem due to up to 120 day ensoulment


  • Emphasis on family "be fruitful and increase in number"
  • Individual couples can decide, might seek advice from their rabbi
  • AIH is permitted, but not AID, as adultery
  • Egg donation is permissible, though many couples would prefer it came from a Jewish woman, due to inheritance rules about motherhood
7 of 14


  • Cloning: the making of a replica
  • Cloning could lead to eugenics 
  • Most Xians feel that cloning of a human, if it were possible, is unacceptable as it goes against "Sanctity of Life"
  • Against Natural Moral Law and God's will - playing God
  • If human's are cloned, what happens to the soul? 
  • Body = temple for HS - HS is damaged, mortal sin
  • Liberal/some conservatives: OK for Theraputic cloning - 
  • RCs reject all forms of cloning as it involves the destruction of embryos and stem cells can be collected from adults
  • Many Anglicans accept Therapeutic cloning as it heals others, just as Jesus healed - we are stewards
  • They are against human reproductive cloning
8 of 14


  • Suicide: when a person ends his or her own life
  • Xians believe this is wrong because
  • Sanctity of Life
  • Jesus died for us, and the soul cannot go to heaven if suicide
  • "Do not murder" applies to ourselves
  • "The body is a temple for the Holy Spirit" Corinthians
  • Against Natural Moral Law
  • Suffering brings people closer to God
  • Selfish
  • King Saul's death - 1 Samuel wasn't called a sin
  • HOWEVER: agape, forgiveness, should  not be condemned
  • Church recognises that when someone commits suicde, they are ill in the mind and can now be buried in holy ground
9 of 14


  • Euthanasia: a gentle or easy death, helping someone to die - mercy killing
  • "Eu"=good "thanatos"=death
  • RC: Euth. in any form is wrong as it breaks the 6th commandment- only God can take a person's life, "Do not murder", against NML
  • Suffering is part of life, and part of God's plan
  • "a grave violation of the law of God" Evangelium Vitae 1995
  • Law of Double Effect: Drugs can be given to ease pain, and shorten life
  • Extraordinary treatments e.g. ops that may not work, may be withheld
  • Anglican: Agape, Love thy neighbour as thyself
  • God gave us free will
  • If person is brain dead, there is no need to keep them alive
  • Society of Friends: no united view, "Let the Spirit lead your life"
  • Slippery slope argument - if euthanasia is allowed, it could lead to involuntary euthanasia, etc
  • Hospices provide a Christian alternative 
10 of 14

Other Religions


  • Unacceptable - every soul created by Allah is sacred
  • "It is not for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined" Qur'an 3.145 - Allah has a plan for everyone
  • Life on Earth is a test - suffering is for a reason
  • Those who are suffering should turn to Allah, pray and "patiently persevere" - He is merciful, and all will be revealed on the Day of Judgement
  • However, Islam allows doctors to stop "unnecessary treatment


  • Life is sacred :- sin :- buried in separate part of cemetery
  • However they often get standard funeral rights as they are judged to have been "disturbed beyond being responsible for their actions"
  • "If there is anything which causes a hindrance to the departure of the soul... then it is permissible to remove it" - Rabbi Moses Isserles
11 of 14

Animal Testing - PRO

  • "Rule over ... every living creature ..." Genesis 1.8
  • Only humans were made in God’s image, so we are more important than animals - animals do not have souls or a relationship with God
  • Humans were made first, and Adam named the animals
  • Animals are here for our use, as long as we treat them well, they can be used to improve human life.
  • C of E states that the use of animals should be monitored "in light of ethical principles”
  • RC - acceptable as long as “it remains within reasonable limits and contributes towards caring for or saving human lives"”
  • Bible teaches the humans have a role of stewardship over the earth, therefore we have dominion over the other animals 
  • RC + Anglican: OK for medical drugs, but animals must not be hurt unnecessarily i.e. for means of vanity
12 of 14

Animal Testing - CON

  • Quakers are opposed to research on animals for trivial manners
  • Qs divided on animals research for medicine
  • They say to love God but then impose cruelty on his creations is a contradiction
  • Stewardship does not invoke dominion
  • The Noahide Laws: humans have to be kind to animals (Judaism)
  • God created everything: we are all equal
  • St Francis of Assisi: animals "have the same source" meaning we all come from God and are equal - Agape
  • God created animals - only he can take life away - NML
  • Animals can feel pain and so we should use them in this way just for human benefit
  • Use criminals instead of innocent animals?
  • Humans should volunteer for medical research as medicines which work on animals may not work the same on humans
  • Animals are God’s creation and should be cared for
13 of 14

Islam and Judaism - Animal Testing


  • Noahide Laws clearly forbid cruelty to animals
  • In Deuteronomy 5:14 "On that day no one is to work" even animals rest on the Sabbath
  • However most commandments of the Torah can be broken if it is to save human life
  • Animal testing is a last resort and should be without unnecessary pain


  • Khalifah - the idea that we are responsible for the Earth
  • Cruelty to animals is forbidden
  • Ill-treatment of animals will have consequences on the Day of Judgement
  • We should demonstrate mercy and compassion for all living creatures
  • Animal testing only allowed to produce genuine medical advances 
  • The animals should be treated humanely, and without unnecessary pain
14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Philosophy and ethics resources »