• According to UK law, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks if there is a risk to the health of the woman or to any existing children.
  • It is allowed up to birth if there is a risk to the woman’s life (or of serious harm) or if the child will be born with a severe disability.
  • 24 weeks is known as viability. This is when a foetus can survive outside the womb. In practice, it is often possible for a foetus to survive outside the womb before 24 weeks.
  • By 12 weeks of pregnancy the foetus’ main organs are operating.

Non-religious arguments in favour

  • A woman has the right to chose.
  • A child’s quality of life is important.
  • A mother’s health and welfare are more important then that of her unborn child.
  • There are too many people on the planet.

Non-religious arguments against

  • Its a form of murder.
  • Everyone has the right to be born so they can reach their full potential.
  • All life has value,

Christian Teaching

  • Roman Catholics and some Evangelical Christians believe that life begins at conception so abortion is murder and a serious sin.
  • Christian teachings on the Sanctity of life means every human has the right to a life (even a foetus).
  • Some Christians, such as Liberal Christians, believe that abortion in certain circumstances may be the kindest and most loving action. They refer to Jesus’ teaching that love is the most important thing.

Roman Catholics stance on abortion

  • Believe that life begins at conception.
  • Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’.
  •  You cannot go against the Sanctity of Life.
  • In the case of rape it is wrong to punish the child for the sins of others.
  • Abortion is never an option.
  • We must not play God.
  • If a life-saving operation needs to take place, and as a consequence the baby in the womb dies, then this is not an abortion as the INTENTION was to do good. (Double Effect)

Anglicans stance on abortion

  • Believe that life begins at conception, however they do not always give full rights to the foetus.
  • Sometimes it is a lesser of two evils to carry out an abortion, especially in the case of rape or severe disability.
  • The life of the mother is always seen as more important than the life of the foetus.

Muslim stance on abortion

  • Some allow it up to 120 days. Hadith says the baby gets its soul at this point.
  • Some say it is always wrong. Quran condemns murder.
  • Some say it is OK if the mother’s life is at risk. Shari’ah says that the mother’s life takes precedence over the child’s.

Hindu stance on abortion

Views on abortion is are varied.

  • Some Hindus say all life is considered to be sacred and come from God – therefore abortion is wrong.
  • Some people follow the teachings on Ahimsa and say abortion is wrong but can be permitted if the mother’s life is at risk.
  • Others approve of abortion basing their view on Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The soul “is not slain when the body is slain” and therefore believing that the soul cannot be destroyed and that the soul of an aborted foetus will simply be born into another body.


Question 1

Describe Christian attitudes to abortion.


  • All Christians believe that life is sacred.
  • Some say that abortion is the murder of an innocent child who cannot even communicate. They would believe that life begins at fertilisation.
  • They would refer to Bible passages such as Genesis 1:27 (all people are made in the image of God) or 1 Corinthians 3:16 (our bodies are temples)
  • Other Christians believe that in exceptional circumstances it might be the lesser of two evils to perform an abortion.
  • This might include times when the woman has been raped.

Question 2

Explain why many Christians are opposed to euthanasia.


  • Life is sacred and it is not our place to take it away – that would be “playing God”.
  • A doctor who helps someone to die might be committing murder.
  • People might be pressured into euthanasia for the wrong reasons.
  • Christians usually believe that patients should not have their lives prolonged unnaturally – this too is “playing God”.


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