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Christian Views on Abortion

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Introduction

Christian Views on Abortion By Natasha Williams 1ai) What is meant by the word "abortion"? 1aii) What biblical and Church teachings might be used in a discussion about it? Abortion is a subject that people, Christians especially, have very strong views about and different denominations have varying feelings about how it should be viewed. They may refer to the teachings of Jesus, quotations from the Bible or even modern happenings. An abortion is when a foetus exits the body of the woman carrying it before it is fully developed into a baby, this can be via surgery or due to natural causes. If this happens naturally then it is called "miscarriage" or "spontaneous abortion", which means it happens without warning and gives the mother or doctors no choice in the matter. However, "procured abortion" is when the foetus is removed in order to terminate the pregnancy deliberately. This normally occurs within the first few months of pregnancy, as it is safer for the woman. Abortion has been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 1967 as long as it is done so before 28 weeks of pregnancy. However, when the Human fertilisation and embryology Act was introduced in 1990, it stated that it was illegal after 24 weeks of pregnancy to abort the birth, as the baby can survive on its own, therefore in the eyes of the law this is considered to be murder. Some believe that the woman should have the right to choose if she wants an abortion or not, as it is necessary to persuade 2 doctors before the surgery can commence. A woman might say that the birth would cause her to suffer from depression and she might feel that she couldn't cope with raising a child at that specific time. Also, it might endanger her or the child and may affect her mental or physical health in some way. ...read more.

Middle

This therefore "preserves innocent lives", for example if the pregnancy was a result of rape, why should the child have to pay or someone else's crime? Other people may find this offensive as the mother would have to bring up a child on her own, knowing the father was a criminal and this was his offspring; it would be a constant reminder. However, Catholics deem abortion a great sin. A quote from Pope Paul VI in 1970 outlines how strongly the Catholic church feels, "Abortion has been considered murder since the first centuries of the Church, and nothing permits it to be considered otherwise." In order to put their beliefs into action they have the chance to join organisations such as "Life" or "SPUC" (the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child). These groups campaign against abortion as well as other controversial issues such as euthanasia (the process of "helping someone die" so they don't suffer as much as they may do if they continued to live) and embryo experimentation (such as cloning etc.). They believe that abortion denies innocent humans of rights. They say that abortions that are decided on whether the foetus is healthy or not, or abnormal in some way are discriminative against disabled people as it suggests that the world would be a better place without them as their lives are supposedly "not worth living". The people within this organisation are not from any particular religion, race or political party but Roman Catholics may support or join them as they share the same points of view on the matter(s). The party members have the chance to produce material such as posters and leaflets to explain their views on abortion in order to justify their reasons and clarify their thoughts for the public. They organise protests in an attempt to sway political decisions and write letters to MP's to influence decisions when debating in Parliament. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Anglican Church, for example, might say that if this is true then surely it means that the life is not "present" until such a time. Roman Catholics may overlook this claim though, as they are strong believers that life begins at the moment of conception, as has been previously stated. Another argument is that "Natural Law" is being disregarded, as Catholics take the view that the natural consequence of pregnancy is childbirth! This is why they oppose the idea of using contraception and abortion is simply an extreme case of this, as it supports the same idea. Roman Catholics obviously want to preserve life in any way possible and this is why they see pregnancy as a privilege as opposed to a "burden". The Church of England deems abortion to be acceptable in "few circumstances". This means that if the mother is incapable of giving birth without endangering her life in the long or short term, then compassion should be shown in order to respect her wishes. By no means does it support abortion; it is described as "undesirable", but the Anglican Church does not view it as "wrong", like the Catholics may do. The Quakers are pacifists and as a result they don't actively support abortion though they feel that there is no easy answer. The biggest problem, they feel, is "whose life is more valuable?" That of the mother or of the infant? This group, along with other Protestant denominations such as Anglicans and Methodists, might support a form of what are called "Situation Ethics". This is where the personal circumstances are taken into account and it is the most loving thing that is done, despite controversy. Christians might find this more appropriate than one overall "rule" because they may recognise the fact that society and social attitude has changed somewhat since the writing of the Bible and as a result some situations may need to be handled differently. For example, euthanasia, divorce, homosexuality etc are viewed differently to how they would have been in Biblical times. ...read more.

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