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Religious Studies: Abortion Coursework

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Religious Studies: Abortion Coursework What is meant by the word 'abortion'? Abortion is defined as the 'premature death of a baby inside the womb and its expulsion from the mother's body'. The word comes from the Latin word 'aboriri' which means 'to fail to be born'. Sometimes a baby dies and departs from the womb due to natural causes- this is known as a 'miscarriage'. A 'procured abortion' is what most people mean when they talk about abortion, and is the term given to the deliberate ending of a pregnancy. An abortion involves the administering of a general anaesthetic in order to dilate the neck of the uterus. Then a suction device is used to remove the entire contents of the womb and larger parts, such as the head, are crushed and drawn out with the use of forceps. In late abortions, a lethal injection is given to the foetus before prostaglandin (labour inducing hormone) is supplied to the mother, and the dead foetus is delivered normally via the vagina. In both cases, special care is taken to ensure that no foetal tissue remains within the uterus of the woman, as it can cause infection, and ultimately: death. An abortion activating pill, RU486, is also available to be taken within the first ten weeks of pregnancy and is given under specialist care in hospitals. Abortion is an unpleasant and gruesome procedure, so why would anyone consider having an abortion? Abortion would be considered an attractive option for many different reasons: � The pregnancy may occur at a time when the woman is young, in full time education, or at crucial stages of her career- if she takes time out, it could be difficult to carry on where she left off � The woman might not be in a stable relationship at the time, and she doesn't want to risk ultimately raising a child on her own � The pregnancy could jeopardise the health of the woman if it were to continue � The child may be likely to have health problems (which can be tested for via ultrasound scanning and amniocentesis) ...read more.


The Church of England permits abortion in the following circumstances: � If there is a serious risk to the mother's life � If conception was a result of rape � If there is a grave risk that the baby would be born disabled The Church of England provides the following justification for these beliefs: 'We affirm that every human life, created in the divine image is unique...and that this holds for each of us, born or yet to be born. We therefore believe that abortion is an evil...and that abortion on demand would be a very great evil. But we also believe that to withhold compassion is evil and in circumstances of extreme distress or need...Christians need to face frankly the fact that in an imperfect world the 'right' choice is sometimes the acceptance of the lesser of two evils' Church of England We can clearly see that the Church of England uses 'Situation Ethics' to justify the use of abortion. 'Situation Ethics' is the making of a decision which would be the more 'loving' thing to do. Therefore, the Church of England understands that sometimes people are put in the position of deciding whether it is more 'loving', for example, to: 1. Allow the mother to live via the use of abortion OR 2. Carry through with the pregnancy which poses a risk to the mother's life as well as that of the baby Each case can be justified, via the use of Biblical and Church teaching, to be some form of evil, however one can be considered 'less' evil than another. The Salvation Army carries similar views to those of the Church of England and believes in the 'Sanctity of Life' from the moment of conception, however, also believes that abortion is justifiable in very few cases including: a threat to the life of the mother, or if the baby would be born abnormal to the extent that it would only survive for a period lasting only a few days. ...read more.


The harsh truth of this may be hard for Westerners to grasp, but Buddhists believe that it is a universal truth that holds true in all situations. Buddhists would justify their belief that abortion cannot be justified even in the case of rape or severe disability by explaining that: 'Existence is characterized by suffering and does not bring satisfaction' The Four Noble Truths This fundamental idea elucidates that the whole point of life is that it is exigent, and that the goal of life is not to seek refuge in pleasures, but to liberate oneself from the continual cycle of rebirth. Each person's life is governed by the actions of their previous life (karma) and if they suffer in their present life, they can only persevere and build up a good karma for their next life. Islam does not permit abortion unless there is a grave danger to the mother's life. Some Muslims believe that the mother has greater rights than the foetus up until the end of the fourth month, after which they both have equal rights. They believe that the later the abortion takes place, the worse it is. In Islam, like in Christianity, abortion was not a great concern at the time that the scriptures were written, but the Qu'ran teaches the following: 'Kill not your offspring for fear of poverty, it is We who provide for them and for you. Surely, killing them is a great sin' Surah 17:32 To conclude, I believe that abortion can never be justified because I believe that nobody has the right to take another's life, whereas a Christian would argue that abortion is a great sin, however, every case is different, and abortion can be the more loving thing to do. A Muslim would agree with a Christian, but explain that they believe that the mother's life is only of more value than the child's up until the end of the fourth month of pregnancy, and therefore abortion would be justified in that period of time for the benefit of the mother's life. ...read more.

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