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A study of Christian beliefs about abortion in comparison with the ethical consideration of abortion.

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Introduction

A study of Christian beliefs about abortion in comparison with the ethical consideration of abortion. Abortion has been an issue that not only divides church leaders and Christians, but also politicians and members of our society. The choice to have an abortion is largely influenced by the laws of the land and sometimes by religion. The question of "The Sanctity of Life" is a key concern for both Christian churches and modern people as is the freedom of giving birth and whether it is a life that can be taken and destroyed. If life is indeed a gift from God, can this life be taken away by choice? And if indeed so, who has the right to do so? Such questions as these will be discussed in detail in this coursework, and I will examine the abortion matters concerning the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. In addition I will examine the abortion matters concerning situationists, utilitarianists and consequentialist looking at the ethical views on abortion and the life of the foetus. I will be looking at hard cases such as rape and disability and question whether abortion can be permissible in these situations. I will then question who and what determines the right to an abortion and whether because the law permits an abortion occurring it is morally right or good. The word "abortion" was derived from the Latin word "aboriri" which means, "to fail to be born". Abortion is currently defined as "an untimely delivery voluntarily occurred with the intent to destroy the foetus."1 Because it is the deliberate ending of a pregnancy, it is also called a "termination", although the medical term for this is procedure is "induced abortion". It is now legal in large parts in the world and has been since the second half of the 19th century. Before the Abortion Act was established, the English Common Law allowed abortions to occur provided it was carried out before the woman felt the foetus move. ...read more.

Middle

When dealing with hard cases such as rape and disability, there are several views on whether abortion can be permissible or not. Both the pro-choice and the pro-life groups have as their premise that "every child is a wanted child".15 Both agree that there is nothing worse than bringing a child into the world that is unwanted, unloved or rejected. However, after this initial agreement, the viewpoints are in complete contrast. The vitalist (pro-life) "a priori" (before the experience) argues that all life is wanted so no direct abortion is possible whereas the extreme pro-choice "a priori" leaves all decisions with the woman as the owner of her womb. It was the rape by British soldiers of a young girl in 1938 that justified Dr Aleck Bourne carrying out an illegal abortion in order to safeguard her mental health. The Quality of Life (QOL) which employs a broadly utlilitarian/consequentialist basis has to determine whether an unwanted pregnancy of this kind will not only continue the trauma for the mother but also for her existing family. Furthermore, it might be argued that any child of rape might also suffer the trauma of learning of their violent origins. The C of E sees rape as a justifiable reason for an abortion to occur. Their report Abortion: an Ethical Discussion, (1965)16 speaks of rape needing to be considered strongly as it is not a trivial issue. It also condemns those that insist that the woman must have a child as it falls outside the primary Christian context of love. I agree with this notion. Sometimes, we need to accept "the lesser of the two evils" in order to do the "right" thing and showing compassion for those is even more important in a situation like rape. Bringing a child into the world that was a result of a violent action is not fair on the mother or the child itself. ...read more.

Conclusion

We can only do what we think is best and I hope that those questioning abortion will have the guide and support of the law, the church and the people. We all need to remember that at the end of the day, we are not perfect. 1 Joe Jenkins, Ethics and Religion, p.87, Heinemann Publishers, 2002 2 John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The facts on abortion, p.39, Harvest House Publishers, 1995 3 John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The facts on abortion, p.40, Harvest House Publishers, 1995 4 Robert A Bowie, Ethical Studies, p.178, Nelson Thornes Ltd, 2001 5 Robert A Bowie, Ethical Studies, p.178, Nelson Thornes Ltd, 2001 6 Joe Jenkins, Ethics and Religion, p.91, Heinemann Publishers, 2002 7Craig Donnellan, The Abortion Issue, p.5, Independence, 2000 8 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.33, Hodder and Stroughton, 1999 9 Robert A Bowie, Ethical Studies, p.180, Nelson Thornes Ltd, 2001 10 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.47, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 11 Medical Ethics and Issues of Life and Death, http://www.cofe.anglican.org/view/medical.html 12 Medical Ethics and Issues of Life and Death, http://www.cofe.anglican.org/view/medical.html 13 Medical Ethics and Issues of Life and Death, http://www.cofe.anglican.org/view/medical.html 14 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.52, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 15 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.41, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 16 ibid; p.42 17 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.42, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 18 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.45, Hodder and Stroughton, 1999 19 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.44, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 20ibid 21 A term laid down by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 22 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.45, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 23 ibid; p.46 24 Michael Wilcockson, Issues of Life and Death, p.53, Hodder and Stoughton, 1999 25 Class notes 26 Class notes 27 Mary Anne Warren; A Companion to Ethics: Edited by P.Singer; p.303; Blackwells; 1999 28 ibid; p.307 29 Mary Anne Warren; A Companion to Ethics: Edited by P.Singer; p.307; Blackwells; 1999 Adora Mba 1 ...read more.

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