Religious Studies- Ethics

Revision cards of key points and words that are useful for the exam!

Medical Ethics


Life is a gift from God

Life is sacred or holy because God gave it to us

Life should therefore be valued and protected

God is part of life and humans do not have the right to do what they like with it

The human body belongs to its creator God

Only God can make decisions regarding life and death

God sanctified human life by becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ

Jesus suffered without trying to do anything to save himself

Life should not be ended until God decides

“You shall not murder”


Obviously many modern medical advances are not specifically covered by Biblical teachings

Christians may differ over the issue of when life begins and what kind of quality of life constitutes living









Fertility treatment;

Couples may seek fertility treatment (IVF) if they cannot conceive naturally

Doctors will create embryos (collection on cells that develop when a sperm fuses with an egg) artificially and implant them into a woman

Spare embryos are always created as the procedure has a low success rate on the first go

If the couple do not want the spare embryos after they have a child, by law they have to be destroyed after 6 years

Some a sperm or egg donor is needed

Not all Christians agree about fertility treatment

Roman Catholics tend to feel more strongly against it than other Christians do


Believe that if people have no children this is God’s plan for them and it is wrong to interfere

“Hannah had no children because the Lord closed her womb”

Some Catholic Christians feel using a donor sperm or egg is bringing a third person into the marriage and is like adultery

Some are concerned about the destruction and disposal of ‘spare’ embryos as they feel they are a human life

Would argue that if a couple want a child they should adopt


Believe fertility treatment is right because when it works it brings happiness and it is a loving way of behaving towards people who are desperate to have children

“So in everything, do unto other what you would have them do to you”

Do not necessarily believe life begins at conception so do not see the destruction of spare embryos as murder

Some Christians have suggested that to be against fertility treatment would not be displaying a loving attitude towards ones neighbour



Nearly 4 million babies have been born through IVF (extract a couple of eggs and sperm and fuse them together, to create and embryo which is then inserted into woman’s womb)

Infertility (natural conception cannot be achieved) is increasing in women in the UK

Catholic Christians have offered to adopt embryos that are going to be destroyed

Some high profile mistakes have been made in clinics with couples being implanted with the wrong embryos- does this suggest a lack of respect for the cells?




The****utic or embryo cloning (production of human embryos to be used in medical research until they are up to 12 years old) is the production of human embryos in order to gather stem cells from them for use in research into human development and disease

Reproductive cloning is used to produce and animal that has the same DNA as another animal – dolly the sheep, it has low success rates

A Christian’s view on cloning will largely depend on how the embryo is viewed


Some Christians feel the use of human life in its embryonic state for scientific cloning research undermines our humanity

Catholics believe research on clones’ human embryos is unnecessary and immoral


Many Christians recognise that God gave us intelligence to develop cloning with the possibility of developing cures for human diseases and conditions

Argue that scientists do many other ‘unnatural’ things such as transplants organs but we recognise that this saves lives- maybe cloning can too



Believe that all forms of abortion (removing a foetus from the womb, ending pregnancy) are sinful and should not be allowed

They are the main organisers or pro-life (the view that abortion is wrong) groups such as LIFE and SPUC (the society for the protection of the unborn child)

Believe that all life is holy and only God has the right to end a pregnancy

Life begins at conception

“Do not murder”


Pro choice (the view that abortion should be an option and is the woman’s decision to make)

Agree that abortion is evil but that sometimes the lesser of two evils has to be chosen

Christians should always do what is the most loving this in the circumstances. Jesus taught to love your neighbour, and in certain circumstances abortion would be the most loving thing to do

They would allow abortion in certain circumstances such as if the pregnancy was a result of ****, if the embryo was deformed, or if the life of the mother is at threat.

Some would also allow abortion for social issues such as poverty

Life does not necessarily begin at conception; life does not begin until a soul has been given

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven.”


Abortion is illegal for ANY reason in only 4 countries in the world

Since it’s legalisation in the UK in 1968 rates have increased year on year

1/3 women will have an abortion in the UK

The maximum time limit for an abortion in the UK is 24 weeks- highest in Europe

Premature babies can survive born at 21 weeks

An abortion was carried out on foetus believed to have a cleft lip in 2002- is that a severe disability?

Should women’s rights be considered over the unborn babies?

In 2010 a survey for the Times Newspaper, 7/10 British Catholics said they supported a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion



Euthanasia and Suicide;

All Christians believe euthanasia (a gentle and easy death) and suicide (taking your own life) are wrong

Life is sacred and given by God. Only God can take it away

It is a Christian duty to preserve God’s gift of life

Euthanasia in the form of the deliberate killing of a person is a grave sin

Not all Christians agree on what to do with people who are terminally ill and are only being kept alive for medical interference

Christians may volunteer for organisations such as Samaritans to try and prevent people from reaching the point of where they want to kill themselves

Suicide used to be seen my Christians as very wrong, but today most people believe that people wanted to commit suicide should be given care an sympathy

The Roman Catholic Churches do not permit ‘sane’ suicides t be buried in consecrated ground, but then most people that want to commit suicide are not normally sane and are depressed so this rarely applies

Christians believe we should learn from suffering and we cannot learn if we eliminate it my causing death


Hospices (places where terminally ill people go to receive care often to die) are often Christian organisations which take care of people who are dying by providing them with pain relief and support

Roman Catholics believe Christians can never hasten death any action which is intended to cause death of a suffering person (e.g. drug overdose) is wrong

Any failure to give treatment to cause death is also wrong

Catholics say suicide is a great sin, and euthanasia is the same as suicide.

“God has said: ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”


Some very Liberal Christians believe if someone is dying in a lot of pain, euthanasia can be the most loving thing to do (some Quakers believe this)

Some very Liberal Christians like Quakers feel euthanasia should be allowed if a person request it and their illness is incurable. 

They believe this because of the principle that God gave humans free will

They would argue that we need to focus on the quality of a person’s life, not just the sanctity of life (belief that human life is holy as God made us with a soul)


Euthanasia is legal in Holland and Switzerland

Many British people have had euthanasia at the Dignatas clinic in Switzerland

Dignatas have been accused of making profits from their services

Some judges have not sentenced people for assisting their loved ones to die in the UK

In December 2010 the Scottish parliament voted to keep euthanasia illegal

Some murderers have pleaded that their crime was a ‘mercy killing’







Animals in medical research;

Christians believe humans are God’s most important creation and that humans have been given the power and authority to rule over animals

“God blessed them and said to them ‘... fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

It is believed when the first humans received his soul, this was the ‘breath of life’ which is not given to other animals as so is seen as setting humans apart

“The lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”

Although many people eat meat and keep animals to work for them this is not seen as reason to treat them badly. Being cruel to animals is often seen as abusing the authority which God gave to humans

Most Christians would agree that it’s necessary to use animals for medical research that can help humans

“Mans dominion cannot be understood as license to abuse, spoil, squander or destroy what God has made to manifest his glory” (Roman Catholic)


Animal rights protestors have gone to extreme measures to stop experiments such as exhuming and holding to ransom the remains of a guinea pig farmer’s mother

Animal experimentation has been directly linked to improvements in the treatments of Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and the development of various vaccines

Many more millions of animals are killed for food


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Human Relationships

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