Religion and Early life Revision cards

AQA Religious Studies B notes 

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Key terms

Abortion - The deliberate termination of a pregnancy, usually before the foetus is 24 weeks and viable

Foetus - Child growing inside the mother 

Womb - Part of a woman's body where the baby grows

Embryo - Fertilised egg  

Quality of life - a measure of fulfillment 

Miracle of Life - the idea that life is wonderful, amazing or special

Blessing - the idea that God had favoured a couple with a child

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Sanctity of Life

Religious believers highly value the concept of the Sanctity of Life, a theory that appears very much in this area of Religious Studies.In regards to this topic, life is too precious to be ended by an abortion. Life is a gift from God so having an abortion means that you are destroying the gift. Having an abortion is going against God and his gift of life. Evidence for Sanctity of Life from the religious holy books are as follows:

Christianity: "Your body is a temple of God...surely you know that God's spirit lives within you." Corinthians 3:16-17

Islam: "Do not take life...which Allah has made sacred...except for just cause" Sura 17:33 

Both of these religions believe that: 
All life comes from God and thus should be protected.
Life is special and precious and therefore needs to be cherished.
God is in charge of life. Only he should decide when it starts and ends.
God has plans for all people's lives. Everyone has a purpose and value.

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When does life begin?

Christian View - Catholic 

At the moment of conception, when the sperm fertilises the egg and forms an embryo. 

Islamic View 

Muslims believe that there is potential life from the moment of conception, but a foetus recieves a soul after 120 days. This is therefore when human life really starts.

UK Law  

Life could take place up to the 28th week of pregnancy. After the 24th week the law views the growing foetus as a human life with rights. It must be agreed by two doctors who believe that if the birth took place it could harm the mother mentally or physically

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Quality of Life

In this particular topic this means reference to the family of a child who can or cannot support themselves and their children, in particular, unable to provide a stable lifestyle or family home.  

This is relevant to the topic of abortion if considering whether it is acceptable to go through abortion, for example, if the child would be born with a severe disability, is unloved by its parents(unwanted) or even born into poverty. Quality of life refers to the kind of life the baby will have. It can mean both the physical and mental wellbeing of the child and also the family circumstances of which it is born into.

In terms of an argument being made, you could say that someone with severe disabilities may not enjoy life to the full. They would not experience life properly and instead have a poor quality of life. They may have live a life of suffering and pain. They may not be able to enjoy a full life or communicate with others. 

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Attitudes to abortion

Christian attitude to abortion  

  • Life is sacred and a Gift from God.
  • Belief in the sanctity of life - life is sacred because it is God given. 
  • Children are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and are a blessing, a presious gift from God.
  • From the time the ovum is fertilised, a new life is begun with neither that of the father nor of the mother....It would never become human if it were not already human - The Roman Catholic declaration on procured Abortion.
  • Abortion is deliberate killing and breaks the commandment: 'you shall not murder' (Exodus 20:13). God loves Children (Matt 18:10 and Luke 18:15-16)
  • Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortin and infanticide are abdominable crimes. 
  • Before Birth, God has given every person a purpose in life (Galatians 1:15). Abortion goes against God's plan for that individual. An early Christian text called the Didache, is anti-abortion: you shall not kill an unborn child, or murder a newborn infant. Didache.
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Attitudes to abortion

  • Absolute moralists Catholics believe that it is ALWAYS wrong because it is murder and there are always alternatives, e.g fostering or adoption.  
  • Some Christians accept abortion under certain circumstances. Many methodists and Anglicans think that sometimes abortion may be the 'lesser of two evils'.
  • The Golden Rule of Christianity is 'love your neighbour as you love yourself'(Mark 12:33). In these circumstances they ask, 'what is the most loving and compassionate thing to do'?

Islamic attitude to abortion

  • All life is given by Allah and therefore to have an abortion and take life is wrong. 
  • All Human life is precious, a scared gift from Allah. (Qur'an 17:33)
  • Allah will punish those who take human life. Qur'an explains how a man is punished on Judgement Day so its a serious mistake to reject his gift of life. 
  • Abortion is accepted by muslims if it threatens the mothers life"Do not take life which Allah has made sacred...except for the just cause" 
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Attitudes to abortion

  • Anyone who carries out an abortion will suffer in the next life: no severer of womb-relationship ties will ever enter paradise. Hadith.
  • Many Muslims believe that life begins at the moment of conception and so an abortion is murder. There is no exception made for severely disabled foetuses. 
  • On Judgement Day, aborted children will ask why they were killed (Qur'an 81: 7-9,11,14).
  • Other Muslims say that the foetus is ensouled (receives a soul) at 120 days. It is then regarded as a person. before that time the mother has more rights than the foetus, but after ensoulment the mother and child have equal rights. 
  • 'You shall not kill your children for fear of want. We will provide for them and for toy. To kill them is a grievous sin.' Qur'an 17:31
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Accepted reasons for abortions

  • Endangering the mothers life e.g. an ectopic pregnancy
  • Mother is too young, she cannot emotionally care for the chid. However, the child could be adopted. 
  • Mother cannot financially cope. However, it could be argued that she should have been more careful with contraception and should accept the consequences for her lack of care.
  • **** the woman may never be able to love the child and it will be a constant reminder of the ordeal. However, the child has never done anything wrong, and still has rights. 
  • Child born with severe disabilities
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Pro Life & Pro Choice

Pro Life - Abortion is totally Wrong 

  • Some women do not consider the greater consequences
  • Fostering the child is an alternative
  • Aborting a child because it has a disability it shallow
  • Medical evidence that foetuses experience emotions and physical feelings

Pro Choice - Abortion is necessary in some cases

  • Severely handicapped children have a poor quality of life.
  • **** could make the woman feel threatened by her child. 
  • Mothers physical and mental well-being should be assessed
  • Adoption is a massive emotional strain on the mother
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Good stuff, you doing RS as a GCSE ?



my exam is tomorrow and I've been revising like crazy wish I'd seen this earlier it's great!

anna meakin


Yes I am doing RS for GCSE had my exam on the 17th may and thanks Sophie! :)

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