Religion and Medical Ethics Glossary.
Agape - A greek word for unconditional love.
Sanctity of Life - Life is sacred, a gift from God.
Ensoulment - The time at which a person is believed to receive a soul from God.
Foetus - When the baby begins to look human, it's called a foetus.
Abortion - When a pregnancy ends before a baby is born, either by accident (miscarriage) or deliberately (procured abortion).
Viable - When the baby is able to survive outside of the womb.
Pro - Choice - Where the women gets to choose whether to have an abortion or not.
Pro - life - Where the baby determines that abortion isn't allowed because there is a possible life.
Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks, at which time the foetus could survive outside the mother's body with medical support.
The Abortion Law (1967), allowed qualified doctors in hospitals perform abortions if:
- The physical or mental health of the mother was in danger.
- There was a serious chance of an abnormal child.
Some Liberal Christians have supported the legalisation of abortion.
Catholic Church announced that abortion is a sin in all cases, as it is an act of murder and forbidden by God.
Many Christians (including the Church of England), think that abortion is permissible when the mother's life is in danger.
"Do not shed innocent blood."
"Defend the cause of the weak and fearless...Rescue the weak and needy."
"Love thy neighbour."
Two main techniques:
Artificial insemination - Sperm is collected and artificially place in the woman, you can use this from a donor sperm if a man can't ejaculate. Or, it can be used when the male partner is infertile and produces little/no sperm.
In-Vitro-Fertilisation - Doctors bring a human egg and some healthy sperm together outside of the womb. If the treatment works an embryo is formed, this is implanted into a woman's uterus where it's left to develop until birth.
- Very small chance that IVF will work.
- It is very expensive.
- Spare embryos can often be created, these are left. Some people see this as equivalent to killing a future life.
- Some people see it as going against God's will and plans for them.
- God creates each and every person himself individually.
Some christians believe that you should love and support your neighbour, showing agape towards them.
However, some say IVF is going against God's will, as he decided whether a person is infertile or not and by having fertility treatment, you are going against God's purpose for you.
If the couple use a donor then it is equivalent to bringing in a 3rd party which Christians believe is like adultery.
Some of the embryos get destroyed and some christians believe this is murder (throwing away a life), this goes against the sanctity of life.
Adoption, is seen as an alternative because Christians believe that there are already children who were naturally conceived but have now parents and now need looking after.
Passive Euthanasia - Allowing people who are being kept alive artificially to die, by switching off a life support machine. (You're taking something away).
Active Euthanasia - Killing someone to end suffering, committing suicide, or assisting someone to commit suicide. This could be a lethal injection or overdose.
In Britain passive euthanasia is legal, however active euthanasia remains illegal.
The main reason for euthanasia is that the person has a very poor quality of life. For example, they are unable to move or look after themselves.
Daniel James, is an example of active euthanasia. His parents assisted his travel to Dignitas, a Swiss clinic specialising in assisted suicide.
- A person's body is their own, therefore they should have the right to do with it as they wish.
- One of the main aims to life is happiness. If illness and disease mean that there is no happiness, then the point to life is missing and a person may be justified in taking their life.
- In many cases euthanasia is a blessing to relatives allowing them to mourn the loss of their loved one, without having to see them suffer.
- To assist someone to die is not an act of violence but an act of love.
- In some cases there may be a chance of recovery. A cure might be discovered.
- The feelings of family and friends may be upset by a 'selfish' decision.
- If we allow euthanasia because someone has no quality of life, doctors may allow relatives to kill old people on the grounds that they are unhappy.
- Life is a gift, maybe even a gift from God. No matter how bad the pain is, we must hold on to life at all costs.
- People have been given dominion over other living things by God.
- God wants people to have a quality of life.
- God is loving, stopping suffering is a loving thing to do.
- People have been given free will by God. They should be able to use this free will to decide when they die.
- There may be purpose from suffering, people may learn from it.
- Life is sacred, so destroying life is wrong.
- The Holy spirit lives in Christians. Euthanasia destroys God's temple.
- It is more loving to care for the dying than to hasten death.
Roman Catholics are opposed to all forms of euthanasia. They believe very strongly in the sanctity of life.
- Some christians believe we are stewards of the earth so we must be responsible for it.
- Animals are part of God's creation and must be treated with respect.
- We should leave animals as they are, and not take them out of their natural environment or treat them badly as God has created a 'good' world.
- 'God is father and we are his children...Animals are part of God's family.'
- Church of England banned its vicars from hunting.
- It doesn't matter if we treat animals badly, because unlike humans, animals do not have souls.
- We have dominion over the earth and it's creatures and are allowed to subdue it.
- It says nothing about animals in the bible so we can do what we like.
- Although, animals are important, they are not as important as people because they do not have sanctity of life.
- We can use animals and test on them, to help ourselves. God put animals on earth to be our helpers.