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Religion and Medical Ethics

Ai. There are a number of treatments available to infertile couples. They are called: Artificial insemination, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, PID, Egg donation and Surrogate mothers.

Egg donation involves one woman donating her egg to the woman that wants to have children. The donor must be at the same stage in her menstrual cycle as the recipient. Fertilisation takes place in a fine tube. Another treatment is called ‘Artificial Insemination’. This can only be used if the man’s sperm count is low.

It deals with taking some semen samples so that all the gametes alive in each sample can be put together to be inserted in the woman when she ovulates. In Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer, short for GIFT the sperm and egg are gathered in a fire tube which is inserted into the woman’s Fallopian Tube. Fertilisation then takes place naturally. ZIFT is also a treatment which involves bringing the sperm and egg together so that fertilisation can take place outside the body.

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The fertilised egg is then injected. ZIFT is short for Zygote Intra-Fallopian Transfer.

IVF stands for ‘In Vitro Fertilisation’, it deals with putting the egg and sperm in a Petri dish. Once fertilisation occurs, the zygote (fertilised egg) is put in incubation for a few days. During this time it divides into about 8 identical cells. The zygote is now known as a blastocyst. The best blastocysts are transferred into the mother’s womb. The chance of pregnancy being achieved is high if more blastocysts are inserted. However, if more than 4 are inserted then the woman may well get quads or even more.

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One other treatment is called ‘Intra- Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection’ (ICSI), this deals with injecting a single sperm into the egg. After this is done it is moved into the woman’s uterus. This treatment is for men that produce little amounts of sperm.

Aii. I am going to explain the Christian attitudes to these treatments. Roman Catholics are against all the treatments for infertile couples because it is not natural since sexual intercourse is not involved. They believe that life is a gift from God and so only God has the right to decide who this gift will be given to. The Roman Catholics have this approach because none of the treatments have any sex act. They say that God’s plan for reproduction demands sex to be a portion of it. Also IVF compromise throwing away the unwanted eggs or using them for investigation which is no different from abortion. This is not right as it is murder. Masturbation by the male is a part of ‘Artificial Insemination’ and ‘Surrogacy’; this is regarded as a sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “These techniques infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him”. This indicates that some treatments don’t allow the child to know who their parents are.

The other Christian churches have different attitudes and allow IVF and AIH. They believe that the rejected embryos are not foetuses and that it’s appropriate to use available resources to supply a husband and wife with the gift of children. The main reason they allow these treatments is because the egg and sperm are from the husband and wife. The other churches don’t allow the other treatments because they often question the identity of the child which could create legal issues. They have no problems with IVF and AIH because the egg and sperm are from the husband and wife.

Hindus believe that they are basically using science for couples to have children. They say that the unwanted embryos have no soul. The law of Manu convinces infertile couples to adopt from a relative. This is popular with large families. The main reason for embryo donation and AID for being unaccepted is because in this the caste is overtaken through the father. Hindus are not in favour of surrogacy or egg donation but some do approve of it if all the other methods have been tried and if there’s good protection. Suetasuatara Upanishad 5:1-2 says, “The one who rules both knowledge and ignorance… alone presides visible forms and all the sources of birth”. This shows that even after all these different treatments, God is the one that decided and rules every womb.

Aiii. Religious people may have problems with transplant surgery. One reason for this is that it is mostly done on brain dead patients who are on life support machines. This means that the patient is unconscious. A doctor named Mr. Pallis regards this as a kind of death because the heart is only beating because of the life support machine. Another reason is the case of selecting organs to go in and out of the body. Some Christians say organs cannot be purchased because taking advantage over the poor is not allowed in the bible. They believe that there are such organs like the heart which is a native part of a single human, which has been invented by God. Some Christians will not carry a donor card because they believe that it pays no attention to the sanctity of life and some Christians believe that transplanting organs from the lifeless to the living is God’s role not humans. Most Muslims agree with this because the Qur’an says that God has created life and so to remove parts from one body from another is an action against God which is considered as a sin. Also the Shari’ah teaches that no part of a body should be separated after death. This is influenced by the Muslim belief in the sanctity of life.

Hindus say that a person should not try and escape from the suffering that has come or is going to come to them by having a transplant because this is against the law of karma. The law of karma says that whatever happens to one is a result of their karma’s (deeds). If one has done bad deeds/sins they will have to suffer the consequences. One major problem the Hindus are concerned with is that the people that do not have enough money might go to an extent where they will be willing to sell their organs or even be prepared to die so that it can supply money for the family. Hindus believe that violence is wrong; this is known as ‘Ahimsa’ and say that transplant surgery is doing harm to the person donating an organ.

Evaluation Question.

“Only God has the right to interfere with our genes”.

Every living organism has genes; its characteristics and body appearance depend upon genes such as their height or blood type. Genetic engineering is the change done of the character of an organism by using the genetic material on purpose. It is done to cure and prevent diseases or even to create an organism with features that are desired. There are different theists that are for or against genetic engineering and there are atheists who are for and against genetic engineering.

Some atheists say that medical science is going to have at least a bit of genetic engineering involved because genetic research is an essential chapter of it. Atheists also say that genetic engineering displays the remedy for diseases that are not presently healable.

Other atheists say that genetic engineering should not be carried out because there’s not much knowledge about the long-term consequences. They are questioning genetic engineering for the fact that Dolly the clone is dead: Did cloning cause illness? They don’t want scientists to have so much control over human beings and plus they say that it regards the human body as an article of trade just like plants.

Liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics both believe that genetic engineering should be carried out to cure diseases. Liberal Protestants are not against using human embryos because Jesus was a healer himself who clearly demonstrated that Christians should do everything they can do to cure people, “He took our firmities and bore our diseases”: Matthew 8:14-17. They also support the ‘Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’ for the statement that embryos can’t be accepted as developed human life until they are 14 days old. However the Roman Catholics reject this. They believe that life begins at conception and so destroying an embryo is regarded as murder. Exodus 2:13 says “You shall not murder”. Roman Catholics are repugnant in cloning humans because it deals with extracting cells and using human lives as if they are toys. They say it is different from having a twin brother or sister naturally.

Other Christians are against any construction of genetic engineering. They believe that as humans we have no privilege to intrude God’s creation. They say that God created the genetic make- up of every human at the moment of conception. This supports the teleological argument that there’s a designer. If genetic engineering is carried out then that suggests that we think God has created a ‘Bad Design’. So genetic engineering is ‘playing God’ which is a sin. Other Christians also say that it is wrong to try and design living organisms to make the earth perfect because only heaven is perfect. Life is a test which determines if you will go to heaven or not. These Christians agree with the atheists for their arguments against genetic engineering.

Some Muslims say that genetic engineering is a good thing if it’s just used to cure disease. They believe this because the Qur’an and hadith teach every Muslim should do there best to try and heal diseases. They say that God wants us to reveal the genetic make-up of humans to ourselves to try and enhance life to improve his creation. They say that if researching drugs is allowed then genetic engineering should be allowed as well.

Some Muslims agree with this view of the other Christians. These Muslims believe that abortion is equivalent to embryo research. They are against the scientists who are trying to create life from stem cells. Some Hindus believe that genetic engineering can be viewed as harmful to the genetic make-up of a person.

Hindus believe that it is the dharma of doctors to discover the genetic make-up of humans to improve and develop human life. Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2 says “When a man sees, he sees no death, no sickness or distress. When a man rightly sees, he sees all”. This Hindu quote suggests that genetic engineering should be investigated. Hindus too say that embryos cannot be regarded as potential human life until they are 14 days old.

Some Hindus are opposed to any form of genetic engineering because genetic engineering is breaking the law of karma and because they believe in ahimsa.

I am opposed to any form of genetic engineering because God has created living organisms they way he wanted so if we interfere we are going against God. Life is a test and we have freewill, I agree with the Hindus that genetic research is breaking the law of karma. This is because if a person has a disability then the person has to suffer it. The reason for the person having the abnormality in the first place is due to previous bad deeds and a person shouldn’t try and escape from this because if they do they will have to suffer there punishment in the future.

Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism all support genetic engineering to some extent because they all say that there is a variation between creating cells and creating people.

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Religion and Medical Ethics. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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