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    Abortion Abortion Presentation Transcript

    • Abortion Overview
    • Personhood: When is a foetus a person?
      • Rights of the Foetus depend upon when life begins:
      • Foetus not considered a life until actually born
      • Life begins at point of conception
      • Life begins then foetus achieves viability – point of survival on own.
    • Law
      • 1991 abortion limit law changed to 24 weeks
      • Because babies born at 24 weeks are viable and can survive
      • Therefore foetus should be given legal protection if it possible to survive outside womb
      • Medical science has moved on since then so pressure to lower to 20weeks
    • When does life begin?
      • At conception:
      • Catholic Church
      • attractive view as it is clear cut and marks a definite moment when foetus deserves same rights as a human person
      • After conception:
      • Law says 24 weeks
      • Some make a distinction between potential life and actual life
      • Heart begins to beat
      • Signs of brain activity
      • At Birth:
      • Anything after birth is murder
    • Sanctity of life/Personhood
      • Christianity holds that all life is sacred.
      • Implies reverence and respect
      • Not all living cells are human e.g. cancer cells
      • Question is: what is needed to make a person if not growing cells: brain, feelings, looks human?
    • Pro Choice: - supporters
      • Campaigns for legalised abortion usually characterises itself as pro choice.
      • Foetus is part of woman’s body
      • Until 24 weeks child is unviable (cannot survive without mother)
      • Not considered an independent life
      • It is a potential life
    • Sanctity of life: Pro - Life
      • We are created in image of God – imago dei – so humans are set apart from animals and have a ‘spark’ of divinity within them
      • Church of England: express overriding compassion for the needs of the mother, especially if there is a threat to her mental or physical health.
      • Values all human life equally
      • Clearly states that all killing is wrong (inline with 10 commandments)
      • X Charles Darwin challenged ‘imago dei’ with natural selection
      • X Kant saw no reason to link vital signs (heart beat, brain waves) to valuing life
      • X Peter Singer to treat human life over animal life is ‘speciesism’ – ought to value all life not just human
      • X sanctity of life cannot cope with conflicts of duty – which life is more sacred –mother or foetus?
    • Against
      • Life gift from God
      • Humans do not have right to make decision
      • God gives life only God can take away
      • Life begins at conception so murder
      • To abort due to disability = denies value of lives of countless disabled people.
      • Who is to decide whether a person will enjoy a good quality of life?
      • Where is the line drawn?
    • Right to a child
      • IVF: In vitro fertilisation
      • Taking eggs and sperm into a laboratory dish to help fertilisation – test tube babies
      • Ethical issues surrounding IVF
      • Do we all have a right to a child through IVF?
      • Is a child a gift from God and not a right?
    • Ethical views on IVF
      • AIH – artificial insemination by husband
      • AID – donor
      • IVF – test tube
      • Spare embryos used for experimentation
      • Screening for imperfect embryos = imperfections weeded out – will this lead to choosing desirable traits
      • IVF exploited for designer babies?
      • older woman past child bearing age using IVF
      • IVF not very successful
    • Natural Law
      • Many problems with IVF
      • Masturbation in order to receive the sperm used – not following natural function.
      • IVF results in destruction of embryos – First primary precept (protect innocent life)
      • Reproduction is a natural process and should not be tampered with.
    • Utilitarianism
      • IVF has a low success rate which would affect the happiness of the couple
      • Would the money that the health service use be better spent saving lives – would this maximise happiness?
      • Is it ethical to spend money on assisting IVF with growing population problems and poverty – happiness of one couple over the pain of many?
    • Kant
      • Is the destruction of so many embryos in order to create one life justified?
      • Using an embryo to cure another sibling: is this using that embryo as a means to an end?
      • Can we universalise the use of IVF for infertile couples?
    • Religious Ethics
      • Catholic Church: technology and doctors dominate in creating new life.
      • Destruction of human embryos not permitted
      • Freezing embryos and surrogacy also frowned upon.
      • Does not disapprove of experimentation that may help overcome embryos disease
      • Protestant Church: Paul Ramsay opposes AID as reproduction should remain within marriage
      • Joseph Fletcher – Situation Ethics – person centred, love/ agape – love for a new child/ family, help infertile couples.
    • Discuss the view that only a religious ethic can provide an acceptable basis for medical ethics.
      • Introduction
            • Explain religion you have studied
            • Mention some of the distinctive things about its ethics, e.g. Biblical guidance, religious leadership, sanctity of life, justice, agape, mercy…
            • Explain that there is not one single ethical approach in Christianity
      • Abortion:
            • Natural Law approach
            • Sanctity of life
            • Agape
            • Forgiveness
            • Personhood
            • viability
    • Discuss the view that only a religious ethic can provide an acceptable basis for medical ethics.
      • Euthanasia:
            • Mercy
            • Justice
            • Sanctity of life
            • Natural Law and doctrine of double effect
            • Agape
            • Golden Rule
            • Jesus relative NT ethics: ‘Love thy neighbour’
      • Then look at the problems
            • No consistent answer
            • Different interpretations: e.g. Agape shown to the mother or the foetus?
            • Sometimes too inflexible? Too dogmatic? Medical staff have to make practical decisions, e.g. how to use money best
            • Assumptions about life after death cannot be proven, so is this a sound basis?
            • Cannot impose religious ethic on medicine- people affected may not be religious, or may be of a different religion
    • Discuss the view that only a religious ethic can provide an acceptable basis for medical ethics.
      • Suggest an alternative basis?
            • Kant? - Utilitarianism?
      • What might Christian ethics offer that these do not?
            • More flexibility than Kant? More room for emotion/ compassion/ love?
            • More cautious about the sanctity of life than Utilitarianism?
            • Bernard Williams, “Utilitarianism finds the decision to kill too easy to make”
      • Conclusions?
            • Not the best basis
            • But with some valuable ethical principles to offer- agape/ compassion/ sanctity of life
            • Treating people as individuals with needs and emotions, not as statistics
            • Charles Curran: limitations in using Bible, reader needs to be aware of historical and cultural differences. Biblical writings are ‘culture bound’ e.g. sex/ages