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Medical Ethics. By Toby Hill-Summers Floyd Thompson & Matthew Niblett. Part 1: Conception. All religions believe that life is sacred and special and all life is created by God

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medical ethics

Medical Ethics

By Toby Hill-Summers

Floyd Thompson

& Matthew Niblett

part 1 conception
Part 1: Conception
  • All religions believe that life is sacred and special and all life is created by God
  • Therefore many religious people believe that the only person who should be creating life is God and that the only morally “right” way to bring a new life into the world is via sexual intercourse
  • Other religious believers might say that as long as the egg and sperm involved in creating the foetus belong to the husband and wife then it is fine to have a child by methods such as IVF
  • Some religious believers would say that medical science is a gift from God designed to alleviate our suffering and that any form of fertilisation, artificial or otherwise, is acceptable.
  • Technologies such as cloning are seen to be wrong, as it is humans attempting to usurp God as creator of all things.
  • AIH (Artificial Insemination by the husband). This is the same process as AID but is used when the husband has a low sperm count, meaning that he is unable to conceive a child via sexual intercourse.
part 1 conception1
Part 1: Conception
  • Many religions teach that God gave man stewardship and dominion over the Earth, meaning that God permits the use of scientific methods to preserve life. If the treatment is designed to alleviate another's suffering then it is morally acceptable.
  • Also technologies such as stem cell research, which can involve harvesting stem cells from embryos, is wrong as it is destroying a potential life and therefore as murder.
  • Many people feel maternal or paternal urges i.e. they want to have children. However some people are unable to have children and there are a number of methods which can people who suffer from this.
  • There are a variety of Christian views towards fertility treatment. Some Christians accept all fertility treatment as God's gift of medicine and as an extension of Jesus' love. However in Catholicism it is taught that couples should only have a child via conception. Infertility is seen as a sign from God to adopt. Many Christians have a middle-view: they see some fertility treatments as acceptable but see the use of another man's sperm as adultery.
fertility treatments
Fertility Treatments
  • IVF Stands for In vitro fertilisation. The egg and the sperm are collected from the mother and father and brought together in a Petri dish. Several samples are taken. They are kept in warm conditions for a couple of days and in this time the sperm fertilise the eggs. These are then placed into the mother's womb.
  • Surrogacy is when someone carries another woman's child for the full-term pregnancy. The child is usually conceived by an artificial method and then grows within the “surrogate” mother. It is then brought up as the child of the couple, not the surrogate mother.
  • AID (Artificial Insemination by a donor) is when a doctor collects several semen samples. The semen is used to fertilise an egg which is produced when a woman ovulates. This is used when the husband is either infertile or has a genetic disease which he does not wish to pass on to his child.
part 2 preserving life
Part 2: Preserving Life
  • In the UK Embryo research is only permitted on embryos of fourteen days or younger. Scientists experiment on embryos in the hope of discovering more about the cures to certain diseases, especially genetic ones.
  • The reason embryos are experimented on is that within them there are stem cells. Stem cells are very special cells that can multiply into any organ in the human body. They can also be used to treat brain diseases such as Parkinson's syndrome. However once the stem cells are removed from the embryos the embryo dies.
  • Scientists are also working on cloning. Cloning is creating an exact genetic replica of an organism. Dolly the Sheep was the most famous example of cloning. It is illegal to clone humans.
  • A transfusion is usually and operation concerning blood. It usually occurs when someone loses a dangerous amount of blood in, say, a car crash. They need blood immediately and blood is taken from a blood bank and given to them.

A transplantation usually concerns an organ that has been fatally damaged due to one reason or another. Organs are taken from the dead who have pledged to give their organs to medical science once they die. Animal organs can also be used- this is known as xenotransplantation.

  • In Catholicism it is widely taught that experimenting on embryos is morally wrong and that it is murder as the embryos die after the stem cells are harvested. A foetus is still a life.
  • All Christians believe life is sacred and so the idea of harvesting embryos is seen as evil. However some Christians acknowledge the benefits of this research and accept that as the embryos must be discarded anyway that at least they are being put to good use. All Christian divisions see cloning as playing God and therefore as wrong.
religious attitudes to fertility treatments
Religious Attitudes to fertility treatments
  • Christianity:
    • Go forth and multiply (Genesis)
    • Infertility is a call from God to adopt (Roman Catholicism)
    • God knows each of us intimately, and has set out a plan for our life (Old Testament)
    • Christianity has a variety of views, some accept all fertility treatment as part of God's gift, while Roman Catholicism sees it as wrong because they believe a child should be born within the confines of marriage.


    • “May you have seven sons" (A traditional wedding blessing)
    • Any third person withing a marriage is as adultery. Therefore they don't agree with with Artificial Insemination by Donor
    • God gives life, which is an expression of his will. (Guru Granth Sahib)
    • Sikhism encourages married couples to have children and that it is seen as a marriage blessing, so any fertility treatment that does not involve donor materials is is accepted.
religious attitudes towards maintaing life
Religious Attitudes Towards Maintaing Life


- All life is respected and should be respected because it isgiven by God.

- Jesus helped others.

- Love one another (Jesus to his disciples)

There is a big difference between the views of the Protestant Church and the Catholic Church with regards to everything. Roman Catholics believe using embryos is wrong and against natural law because a foetus should be given the same respect as a person. Other Christians have similar views because they belive all life is sacred and should not be harmed/destroyed, although many still see the potential benefit in the future to many people. Cloning is seen as playing God and therefore wrong.

Organ donation and blood transfusions are seen as a free act of kindness/good will and Pope Benedict XVI has agreed to be a donor after his death. Most Christians agree with this, although Jehovah's Witnesses have pioneered bloodless surgery because they believe the life is in the blood.