RE unit 3; matters of life

Revision of fertility treatments and religious views towards them

  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 21-05-11 11:31

Methods of fertility treatment

AIH: Artificial Insemination by Husband; sperm is MEDICALLY INSERTED into vagina, fertilisation occurs NATURALLY => Most are in favour if it's the ONLY WAY a woman can become pregnant

AID: Artificial Insemination by Donor; men are PAID to donate sperm, child gains right to know father's identity at 18 => Can be seen as ADULTERY, concerns about EFFECTS on child and partner. 

IVF: In Vitro Fertilisation; SCIENTIFIC METHOD of reproduction, fertilisation occurs OUTSIDE the body. => Accepted if sperm comes from husband. But some see creation of spare embryos DISRESPECTFUL towards life.

SURROGACY: Another woman CARRIES baby (partial) and sometimes provides the egg as well (total); can be paid for expenses but NOT FEE (illegal). Loses parental rights after 6 weeks. => Seen as UNNATURAL and ADULTERY by sikhs. Some concerns over effects on child and partner.

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Religious views: Christianity

- Seen as COMPASSIONATE towards infertile couples


- Children are VERY LOVED, as they were very wanted

- Seen as an extension of Jesus' healing ministry


- AID and surrogacy seen as MECHANICAL ADULTERY; problems could arise

- Infertility should be accepted in GOD'S WILL (Story of Hannah)

- Creation and destruction of spare embryos DISRESPECTS LIFE.

- Only God should have the power to create life

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Religious Views: Sikhism

- Most see assisted conception (IVF & AIH) as matter for CONSCIENCE

- Accept AIH and IVF where sperm comes from HUSBAND


- Donor treatments are seen as ADULTERY and might make infertile partner feel INADEQUATE

- Surrogacy is UNNATURAL

- Some think infertility should be accepted in GOD'S WILL

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Religious Views: Buddhism

- Use of IVF is a matter of INDIVIDUAL CHOICE

- Shows METTA (Benevolence) and KARUNA (Compassion)

- Helps to fulfill the duty to use SKILLFUL means

- Creation of spare embryos is DISRESPECTFUL towards life

- Kammic (Karmic) implications

- Potential social and psychological problems with donor treatments and surrogacy. 

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Blood Transfusions and organ transplants

Practical issues:

- Rejection => always ensure a good match, anti-rejection drugs

- Spread of disease => minimised through careful screening 

Types of transplant:

- Live => blood, bone marrow (regenerative) & kidney (non-regenerative)

- Cadaveric => heart, cornea, lungs etc...


Sometimes ANIMAL ORGANs are used

People who wanted to donate organs if they die carry a DONOR CARD

    - Some people don't carry them as they don't want to be buried 'incomplete' 

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Religious views: Christianity

- Act of compassion; it's mostly encouraged

- Correct use of GOD GIVEN SKILLS

- It's a SELFLESS act of saving life

- Some LITERAL christians are against transplants as they believe in PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of the body.

Jehovah's Witnesses (Against blood transfusions):

- Blood is sacred and shouldn't be passed to another (Believe that the soul is carried in the blood)

- Totally opposed to blood transfusion whatever the circumstances

- Accept organ donations IF blood is completely drained from organ

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Religious Views: Sikhism and Buddhism

- All donations save life and are an act of KINDNESS

- Donation helps progress towards MUKTI (liberation from cycle of rebirth)

- It's a form of SEWA (service)

- No payments must be taken

- Believe that the body is just a SHELL so not opposed to cadaveric donation

-Donation is a matter of INDIVIDUAL CHOICE

- Body is only a shell; no kammic consequences

- Fits in with first precept, METTA and KARUNA

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- Scientific method of creating a genetically identical copy of an organism

- Reproductive cloning (creating human life):

- ILLEGAL in the UK

- Foreign doctors claims of success haven't been proved 

- It could help: single women who don't want sexual relationship, same-sex couples who don't want genetic ties to anyone else and infertile couples who can't be treated in the normal way.

- Stem cell (therapeutic) cloning (ways of curing diseases):

- Carried out at licensed places, embryos must be destroyed after 14 days

- Studies how embryonic cells become SPECIALISED and how cells become diseased. 

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Religious views: Christianity

- Embryo is only POTENTIAL life so it's not murder

- Therapeutic is intended to save lives - responsible use of GOD GIVEN SKILLS.

- Therapeutic cloning is an act of compassion and mercy

- All oppose REPRODUCTIVE cloning as it destroys the uniqueness of the individual 

- Its IDOLATROUS to desire a copy of yourself

- Only God should have the power to create life => PLAYING GOD

- A child should be seen as a gift and not a commodity

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Religious Views: Sikhism and Buddhism

- Compassion for infertile (reproductive)

- Saving life (therapeutic)

- PLAYING GOD => interference w/God's role of CREATOR

- Concern about possible EFFECTS ON REBIRTH


- Embryos don't possess 5 skandhas => TC doesn't break 1st precept

- Reproductive cloning breaks second precept as it steals genetic material

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Method of therapeutic cloning

1) Nucleus is removed from a donated human egg

2) Nucleus from an adult cell is inserted into the empty egg

3) An electrical charge triggers it into becoming an embryo

4) At 6 days the UNSPECIALISED stem cells are removed for research

5) The embryo is destroyed

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) licenses institutes who are allowed to carry out stem cell research 

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