WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN
Abortion: deliberate termination of a pregnancy - usually before 24 weeks. Most Christians, however, believe that the date of ‘viability’ should be reduced to 20 weeks, as some babies have survived from this stage.
Sanctity of life: life is sacred because it is given by God, we do not have the right to take it away and we cannot put a price on life.
- Life begins at birth (i.e. when the baby has passed down the birth canal and has drawn its first breath).
- Life begins at viability. This is the stage at which the baby could survive outside the womb if it was born prematurely, and is currently 21 weeks into pregnancy.
- Life begins at conception. This means that at the very moment of conception, when the sperm unites with the ovum, human life exists and has a right to life and the protection of the law.
“God made man in His image" Genesis 1:26
”You yourselves are God's temple” --1 Corinthians 3:16
Reasons for having an abortion:
- Single mother, not in a serious relationship, may not want to bring up a baby on her own.
- Pregnancy happens at a bad time, e.g. young, student, career, etc.
- Foetus is not developing normally, e.g. mentally or physically handicapped.
- The woman’s health is at risk.
- She feels she cannot cope with having a baby
Alternatives: adoption, financial and psychological support, foster care scheme
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” --Jeremiah 1:5
“The unborn human being’s right to live is one of the inalienable human rights” Pope John Paul II, 1985
Some believe women should have the right to choose to have an abortion, and should not have to persuade two doctors that she is making the right choice.
- It’s the mother’s body - she should decide what happens.
- Every baby has the right to proper care and love; if this is not possible, abortion should be OK.
- There are already too many unwanted babies in our over-populated world. Why add more?
- Surely the woman, and her family, have rights, not just the unborn baby?
- Raped women should not be made to have the baby as they did not choose to get pregnant and would be constantly reminded of their ordeal as the child grows up.
- If baby is severely handicapped, only mother can decide if she can look after the baby.
- In the case of under-age pregnancy, the girl may not have really understood what she was doing, and should not lose her education and career opportunities over one mistake.
- A family may be too poor to cope with a child, and if there are other children already, they may suffer.
- Life doesn’t really start until birth, or at least until the foetus is viable
- Many pregnancies end through natural abortions (miscarriages) – abortion is natural and often women don’t even know they were pregnant: it doesn’t have to be a big deal
- A severely disabled baby may have a very poor quality of life that also brings trauma to the parents who have to watch it suffer. It may be kinder for that child not to be born.
Many people see foetus as distinct human being with its own right. They believe abortion cannot be justified because it is killing an innocent human being.
- Every child is a precious and unique gift from God. We have no right to destroy this.
- Defenceless baby needs special protection since it cannot stand up for its own rights.
- The rights of the unborn child are equal to those of her mother.
- The embryo is human from conception with its own DNA. Left alone, it will develop into a person.
- Physically or mentally handicapped children can lead full and rewarding lives. Aborting people because of disability is like telling disabled people that they are worthless.
- Abortion is murder – the deliberate taking of a human life.
- Doctors and nurses promised to save life, not destroy it. Abortion breaks the Hippocratic Oath.
- The foetus can feel pain and has intelligence.
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that children need protection both before and after birth.
- Unwanted babies could be adopted. Many childless couples are desperate to adopt.
“Euthanasia” literally means “a gentle, easy death.” In Britain, as in many other countries, euthanasia is illegal. A doctor who deliberately ends someone’s life can be charged with manslaughter or murder.
1. Active Euthanasia: When action is taken to kill a patient (e.g. injection or pill)
2. Passive Euthanasia:This is where a person is not helped to die, but where their life is not artificially prolonged using any drugs or technology - treatment is withdrawn.
3. Voluntary Euthanasia: This is where a person chooses to end their own life in a dignified way- sometimes referred to as a “mercy killing”. This is legal in some countries (for example Holland), but certain conditions have to be met before it is permitted.
4. Involuntary Euthanasia: This is where a decision is made that a person should die without the consent of that person, who is unable to voice their opinion (usually due to being in a coma) -family and doctors decide,
- free will - able to choose to end life
- poor quality of life - end suffering?
- 'love thy neighbour'
- life starts after death, life in heaven = free of suffering
- preserve sanctity of life
- purpose in suffering
- medical advances = no need for suffering
- 'do not kill'
- Hippocritic Oath taken by doctors
- makes life 'disposable'
‘Euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God’ --Pope John Paul II, 1995
The aim of the Hospice Movement:
- Care and support for patients, relatives and friends at the most difficult stage in their lives.
- Relieve pain – whether caused by the illness or by the stress and fear it creates. Hospices specialise in pain control and lead the way in palliative medicine (pain control by drugs).
- Enable patients, families and friends to face up to death by allowing them to talk a free and open way.
- Care for the emotional needs of relatives – before, during and after the patient’s death. In most hospitals, the needs relatives are largely ignored. Hospices seeks to fulfil those needs.
- Hospices support relatives, even after the patient has died. Some Hospices are for children, with facilities for children and families, with play areas, gardens, and rooms for brothers and sisters to stay.
"Hospices are places where people come to live, not to die" --Dr.H. Mossop - A Hospice doctor