Task: Watch the video.
Christians understand and apply the guiding principle of the sanctity of life in a variety of ways to the issue of abortion. Within the same church, views may differ. The four main positions are as follows:
- Pro-life – some Christians, including many Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, believe that abortion is morally wrong because of their belief that human life begins at conception. They may make an exception if an abortion is essential in order to save the life of the mother (the ‘principle of double effect’), assuming all efforts have been made to save the fetus.
- Pro-choice – it is up to the woman to decide whether it is right for her to have an abortion because it is her body. Some Christians believe that a woman has a right to a safe abortion, and that it shows compassion if the law allows this.
- Absolute moral – abortion is wrong in every circumstance.
- Relative moral – abortion is permitted in certain circumstances.
Task: Read the following quotes and explain how each support or don’t support the use of abortion.
- “So God created them in his own image” Genesis 1:27
- “Thou shall not commit murder.” Exodus 20:13
- “Man does not become human until he receives the breath of life.” Genesis 2:7
- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”
- “God breathed into Adam the breath of life”
On 23rd May 2011, the BBC published an article asking ‘Where are India’s millions of missing girls?’ based on the figures of the 2011 Indian census which showed a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven. Activists feared that eight million female fetuses may have been aborted from 2001-2011.
The figures show that for every 1000 boys born in India, there are only 914 girls which campaigners put down largely to the increased availability of antenatal sex screening. Although India outlawed sex-selective abortion in 1994, campaigners argue that this is not being strictly implemented. In south west Delhi for example, there are dozens of ultrasound clinics. This area has the worst child sex ratio in the capital with 836 girls for every 1000 boys. Delhi is not alone in this, with sex ratios declining in 17 states in India in the past decade.
All this has occurred regardless of the Pre-Natal Determination Test (PNDT) Act of 1994, which outlawed sex-selective abortion, and which was amended in 2004 to include gender selection even at the pre-conception stage.
Task: Answer the following…
- Are there any differences in the ways in which children of different genders have been raised in your own family?
- How might Christians defend abortion generally, and specifically in relation to gender selection?
- What arguments might they use against abortion?
Muslims regard abortion as wrong and haram (forbidden), but many accept that it may be permitted in certain cases.
All schools of Muslim law accept that abortion is permitted if continuing the pregnancy would put the mother’s life in real danger. This is the only reason accepted for abortion after 120 days of the pregnancy. Some schools of Muslim law permit abortion in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, while others only permit it in the first 7 weeks. However, even those scholars who would permit early abortion in certain cases still regard abortion as wrong, but do not regard it as a punishable wrong. The more advanced the pregnancy, the greater the wrong.
Task: Read the information and then complete the following…
Explain two contrasting Muslim views on abortion. You must refer to a teaching or sacred writing in your answer.