Abortion And Euthanasia. How Different Religions View Such Practices

1178 words - 5 pages

An abortion is when a foetus is expelled from its mother's uterus before the pregnancy reaches full term (40 weeks). Abortion is usually carried out when the mother does not wish to have the baby for reasons such as being too young or having a career. It may also be carried out if the baby has serious health problems or its birth will endanger the mother's life.For every five babies born in Australia there are another two that are aborted. In 1990, almost half of all teenage pregnancies ended in abortion. To the Christian churches this is considered to be, sacrilege and people who participate in abortion are 'evil, selfish, demonic people who do not deserve to breathe God's air'.Christians who think abortion is murder believe that the foetus is a person, with the same rights and the same value to God as a child who has already been born. However others believe the foetus is not yet a person, and so its life is not sacred. It is some time referred to as a 'potential person'.Roman Catholics believe that life begins, and is sacred, from the moment of conception, as soon as the woman's egg is fertilised by the man's sperm, on the very first day of pregnancy. Thus it is always wrong to kill an unborn child, at whatever stage of development. Carrying out the sin of abortion automatically carries the penalty of excommunication. Roman Catholics try to discourage abortion; instead they promote adoption as an option. Humanx Vitx in 1968 emphasised that human life is sacred, and the declaration on Procured Abortion in 1974 stated that abortion is a serious sin and that everyone, whether Catholic or not, should have a proper respect for human life. The bible stresses the sanctity of human life, where humanity is made 'in the image of God' (Genesis 1:26) and people are commanded not to murder (Exodus 20: 13).Many Christians from different churches agree with this point of view. However there are those in the Christian church who believe that the foetus cannot really be described as a person until later in pregnancy, when it becomes more recognisably human.The Salvation army also believes that life is sacred from the moment of conception, but it does accept that abortion should happen in a very few cases, such as where the mother's life is in danger of the baby is so severely abnormal that it cannot possibly survive for more than a few days.The United Reformed Church recognises that there is a wide range of views among its members, but it suggests that there is a difference between a foetus that is almost ready to be born, and the early stages of pregnancy. A foetus of a few weeks would not be referred to as a child and they accept the fact that abortion is sometime necessary.Latter day Saints believe, according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonsim, that elective abortion is sinful, though not necessarily murder. A Latter day Saint can not have an abortion performed except in cases of rape, incest, the life of the mother is in danger, or a severely defective foetus that cannot survive birth.Hinduism teaches that abortion, like any other act of violence, thwarts a soul in its progress toward God. Hindu Scriptures and traditions have from the earliest of times condemned the practice of abortion, except when the life of the mother is in danger. Hinduism teaches that the foetus is a living, conscious person needing and deserving protection. Hindu refers to abortion as garha-batta (womb killing) and bhroona hathya (killing the undeveloped soul).Islam prohibits abortion except when the mother's life is in danger. The Islamic council of NSW supports this view. Muslims consider a fertilised ovum that is attached to the womb a living being that has the potential of reaching its full formation. A developed foetus is considered a human life and its subject to the laws of inheritance to the extent that if the mother is sentenced to capital punishment, her life should be preserved because she is carrying another human life.Euthanasia is defined as the act of ending someone's life in order to relieve incurable suffering. It is not just about killing, but also about deciding when enough is enough; sometimes it is kinder to not do everything possible to prolong life.Euthanasia can take on three distinctive formPassive - the withdrawal of medical treatment/life support is with held resulting in death.Voluntary - a terminally ill patient asks for help to end their lifeInvoluntary - someone else decides its best to end an ill patient's life.Some Christian hold the belief that if people made it clear, in writing, that they want to die than it should be accepted. They believe in the notion you should treat others as you would like to be treated, putting the principles of agape into practice, and euthanasia could be the most loving action.The general UK Baptist response is whether or not people have the right to take away human life. They are generally against it holding the belief that all human life is sacred. On the other hand when a person is brain dead or cannot maintain any kind of relationship and medical experts agree on no chance of a recovery than it is acceptable to allow a patient to end their life.The Church of England holds the view that the sanctity of life is very important. However they believe that doctors do not have the right to do everything possible to keep people alive.The Roman Catholic churches are totally against euthanasia. Cardinal Clancy refers to it as either 'murder or suicide'. To the church any act that brings about a persons death is the same as murder. It the Catechism of the Catholic church it states that 2324'euthanasia, whatever its form or motives, is murder'.Buddhism teaches that the first moral precept of refraining from destroying life should be observed. Mr Graime Lyall, of the Buddhist council of N.S.W takes the stand that the teachings of Buddha are totally opposed to killing of any kind. However all Buddhist does not accept this.They see a difference between self-regarding reasons for killing oneself, and compassionate reasons. For them compassionate reason where the patient is suffering an incurable disease is seen as acceptable. Others hold passive euthanasia as acceptable because it does not involve a volitional act of terminating life but is purely involved in not forcing the patient to continue living where no quality of life is possible.


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