Religion and Medical Ethics

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Abortion is when a foetus is removed prematurely from the womb before it is able to survive.

  • Legally take place before the 24th week
  • Consider the quality of life of mother & unborn child & any pre-existing children

There are complicated arguments for and against abortion.

  • 'Pro choice'- Woman has right to decide (foetus considered part of woman)
  • Is foetus part of mother?- genetically different
  • Against but certain circumstances it is permitted- eithers health is at risk, **** or mother is too young to cope
  • When does life begin? Conception? (Roman Catholic Church) Or at birth?
  • Is the foetus an actual person or a potential person?
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Abortion and Christianity

Many Christians see abortion as undesirable.

  • Roman Catholic Church say its murder

"Abortion is considered to be murder since the first centuries of the Church, and nothing permits it to be considered otherwise."- Pope Paul VI (Leader of the Roman Catholic Church, 1970)

  • The Church of England say its permissable in certain circumstances
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)- say the life of the unborn child cannot be valued above the womans
  • Allowing a woman to chose- Christian compassion

The 'Sancity of Life' argument

  • Created in image of God & given life
  • Do not have the right to interfer

"You shall not murder."- Exodus 20:13

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Fertility Treatment

Infertility means an inability to conceive a child.

  • Artificial insemination by the husband (AIH)- sperm from the husband is injected into the wife's womb
  • Artifical insemination by Donor (AID)- sperm from a sperm bank is used
  • In Vitro fertilisation (IVF)- eggs are fertilised in a test tube and 1 or 2 are implanted in the mother's womb
  • Egg donation- where an egg from a diferent woman is used
  • Cloning- a possible future technique for creating children genetically identical to one parent
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Fertility Treatment and Christianity

Christianity sees Children as a blessing from God.

  • Most Churches- its okay for science to help childless couples- as long as no one else is involved in the process
  • So AIH is permissable- blessed with a child, sancity of marriage isn't interfered with.- Roman Catholics aren't keen- unnatural sex act
  • If AIH fails- adoption
  • Some Christians- IVF is appropriate
  • AID & egg donation- less favourable- third party
  • Roman Catholic church opposes IVF in all forms- created spare embryos that are destroyed. Catholics- life begins at fertilisation- embryos have rights
  • Many Christians opose cloning- attempt to play God, many foetuses will die & meant to be unique
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Euthanasia & Suicide

Euthanasia means killing someone painlessly to relieve suffering, especially from an incurable illness. It is often called mercy killing.

  • Voluntary euthanasia- actively requests assistance to die or refuses treatment
  • Involuntary euthanasia- person is unable to make request & decision is made by others

Suicide is when someone takes their own life- usually because of depression or illness.

  • Used to be a crime- but now seen as a sign they need help
  • Assisted suicide- when a doctor provides someone the means to end their own life
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Euthanasia & Suicide

Euthanasia & assisted suicide is illegal in the UK.

  • Double effect- doctors prescribe an excess of pain killers- ease suffering but lead to death- legal as long as the intention was to relieve pain
  • Concern- elderly people may feel under pressure to end their lfie
  • Charity 'Dignity in Dying' wants it legalised- survey said 80% were in favour of letting terminally ill patients die with doctors assistance
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Euthanasia & Suicide and Chrisianity

"Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit."

  • God lives within us
  • Sacred gift- seen as wrong by many christians
  • However sime argue- Jesus resurrection proves death is not the end- earthly life isn't always the most important thing
  • Roman Catholics- strongly oppose- grave violation of the law of God
  • Roman Catholics- suicide is a grave sin- aren't given a Christian burial
  • However some Christians point out passages in the bible describe suicide & don't call it a sin
  • Many Christians- euthanisia is a demonstration of Christian compassion
  • Anglican denominations- distress should not be suffered at all costs & death may be a blessing- quality of life should be considered
  • Local Churches often have links with hospices
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Using Animals in Medical Research

Christianity says animals come below people.

  • Major issues for Christians- do animals have souls?
  • Many believe they don't- God created us as superior to them- here for our use

"Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moved on the ground."- Genesis 1:28

  • Teaches- treat animals with kindness but they can be used to benefit mankind
  • Excessive money shouldn't be wasted on animals when humans are suffering
  • Roman Catholic Church says animal experimentation is allowable

"remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives."

  • Some campaign for great compassion- 'Catholic Concern for Animals'
  • Some argue- our treatment of animals reflects on us
  • Church of England teaches- medical & technological use of animals should be monitored in 'light of the ethical principles'.
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