Religion and Early Life

AQA Specification B - Topic 4 - GCSE.

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Key Terms

Abortion - deliberately rid of the foetus from the womb to stop the pregnancy.

Blessing - child can be seen as a gift to the parents.

Fostering - to temporarily look after a child that is not your own, legally the Mum's.

Miracle of Life - pregnancy is a miracle.

Pro-Choice - arguments focuing on the mother's right to choose an abortion.

Pro-Life - arguments focusing on the rights of the unborn child.

Sanctity of life - life is special and sacred.

1967 Abortion Act - UK law - has to be before 28 weeks of pregnancy.

1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act - now 24 weeks. 

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When does life begin?

Different Ideas :

  • Conception (sperm meets egg)
  • Heartbeat at 3 weeks.
  • When it starts to move (quickening) - 9 weeks.
  • At birth when it is independent and can survive on its won.

Why have children?

  • To carry on a family name and keep the religion going.
  • To fulfil marriage promises and completes family & expression of love.
  • Religious duty to accept gift of life from God.

Why people don't have children?

  • Not ready for responsibility/ too expensive.
  • Not in a stable/happy relationship.
  • Too young/old or not in a position to care for a child or medical reasons.
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Abortion Act

  • Before 1967, abortion was illegal but it happened. There was over 100,000 cases a year and many died as it was carried out by unregistered people.
  • Women were desperate so they risked their lives to get rid of it so act was necessary. 
  • 1967 Act states it is illegal in Britain but :
  • - carried out in specific circumstances where 2 doctors agree that there is a danger to a womens M&P health.
  • - that the foetus will be born with M/P disabilities.
  • - the welfare of exsiting children will be at risk.
  • Limit was at 28 weeks but ammended to 24 in 1990. 
  • Abortions usually take place in the first 12 weeks.
  • It must be done by a registered doctor/clinic.
  • The Act has now opened up to any woman who wants one. 
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Pro Life vs Pro Choice


  • life of a foetus is important/more important than the life of a mother.
  • foetus must have someone speaking for it.
  • all life has potential and should be given a chance.
  • abortion is murder - murder is wrong.
  • All life is sacred, should be protected.
  • God created all life so humans must protect it.


  • set up to secure all rights to life.
  • related to any issue of life - abortion, suicide, euthanasia.
  • believes in educating people - right to life is basic human rights.
  • campaigns politically for law changes.
  • keeps the issues focused in the media. 
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Pro Choice


  •  a woman has the right to decide what happens to her body.
  • some foetuses are so damaged it would be cruel to let them be born.
  • if the woman's life is at risk, she should be allowed an abortion.
  • when **** has occurred, then abortion must be an option.
  • the foetus cannot survive outside the womb until a certain point. 
  • women would have them anyway, but not safe ones. 


Abortion Rights (The National Pro-Choice campaign)

  • Set up to secure the rights of women to have abortions. 
  • A woman is best able to decide whether to carry on the pregnancy.
  • Campaigns against restrictions in the law.
  • Campaigns for better provision and women friendly NHS-funded services.
  • Uses petitions, public meetings, publications.
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Religious Quotes


  • God gives life and takes it away, not us.
  • All life is sacred - wort it to god.
  • God planned all our lives.


  • Until the 40th day, the foetus is 'mere-water' 
  • The foetus is as special as all life.


  • Belief in non-violence (ahimsa) and respect for all.
  • Life is sacred.
  • A woman who aborts her child loses her caste and her karma is affected.
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Religious Teachings


  • Only god has the right to take life after he has created it.
  • The roman catholic church is completely against it. 
  • Protestants accept it as a necessary evil but it must be a last resort.


  • Accepts abortion for medical reasons. 
  • A woman's life takes priority if it is in danger.
  • If there is likely to be severe deformity abortion can be considered.
  • Foetus is part of the woman, not life itself. 


  • Believe in the main that abortion is wrong.
  • Brings bad karma and prevents the foetus' soul from working through a lifetime but allowed to save the woman's life.
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Quality of Life

  • It means what someone's life is like and is used to support abortion.
  • This is true as abortion is based on the grounds of disability, because the argument is that the disability affects the quality of life of the baby. 
  • But this means that other people making judgements on whether life is worth living. 
  • But the parents are trying to be compassionate rather than cruel - necessary evil. 
  • What if the foetus was blind, deaf, totally paralysed, 24 hour care?
  • - abortion prevents suffereing
  • - person would have no independece
  • - person could not enjoy life to the full
  • - person would be a victim of discrimination
  • BUT :
  • - do we have the right to decide quality of life?
  • - many disable people can enjoy & achieve in life
  • - do you miss what you never had? (sight, hearing)
  • - life should always be given the chance, medical science would help. 
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Who should choose?

  • woman
  • husband
  • boyfriend
  • parents
  • religious leader
  • doctor


  • if she is living in poor circumstances, or has a child with a disability.
  • Or when the child was conceived e.g. too young/****
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Alternatives to abortion

  • Keep it = could work out well or the mother could face problems providing or loving the child.
  • Choose to risk own life = both might survive, mother might die leaving child alone or seriously ill for life.
  • Fostering = chance to be looked after by biological mother late. Child is confused and feels given up and unwanted. Foster family might not work.
  • Adoption = the child is brought up by a real family, but the child may want to find the real parents and may face problems being unwanted. 
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Questions on this Topic

1) What is meant by Pro-Choice?

2) Explain what is meant by sanctity of life?

2) Why could some women want an abortion? 2 reasons.

3) Explain idea about when life begins.

3) What does the law say about abortion?

4) Explain why some religious believers might believe children to be a blessing on a marriage.

5) Explain why some religious believers disagree with abortion. Use beliefs and teachings in your answer.

6) Abortion should only be available if the woman's life is in danger? Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer showing that you have thought about more than one point of view. Refer to religious arguments in your answer. 

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