Sanctity of life
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and the Catholic Church
In religion and ethics, the inviolability or sanctity of life is a principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life that are said to be holy, sacred, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated. This can be applied to both animals and humans, for instance in religions that practice Ahimsa, as both are seen as holy and worthy of life.
The concept of inviolability is an important tie between the ethics of religion and the ethics of law, as each seeks justification for its principles as based on both purity and natural concept, as well as in universality of application.
The phrase sanctity of life refers to the idea that human life is sacred, holy, and precious, argued mainly by the pro-life side in political and moral debates over such controversial issues as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, and the "right to die" in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries. (Comparable phrases are also used in other languages.) Although the phrase was used primarily in the 19th century in Protestant discourse, after World War II the phrase has been used in Catholic moral theology and, following Roe v. Wade, Evangelical Christian moral rhetoric.
The sanctity of life principle, which is often contrasted with the "quality of life" to some extent, is the basis of all Catholic teaching about the fifth commandment in the Ten Commandments.
In Eastern religions
In Western thought, sanctity of life is usually applied solely to the human species (anthropocentrism, sometimes called dominionism), in marked contrast to many schools of Eastern philosophy, which often hold that all animal life is sacred―in some cases to such a degree that, for example, practitioners of Jainism carry brushes with which to sweep insects from their path, lest they inadvertently tread upon them. George Carlin, American social critic and author, challenged this viewpoint in his 1996 album and HBO special Back in Town.
- Abortion-rights movements
- Anti-abortion movements
- Consistent life ethic
- Culture of life
- Fetal protection
- Medical ethics
- National Sanctity of Human Life Day (in the US)
- Religion and abortion
- Right to life
- Sanctity of Life Act, US bill, repeatedly introduced since 1995, that has never become law
- Drutchas, Geoffrey Gilbert (1996). Is Life Sacred? The Incoherence of the Sanctity of Life as a Moral Principle within the Christian Churches. Lancaster Theological Seminary.
- Ronald M. Green (1999). "Jewish Teaching on the Sanctity and Quality of Life". In Edmund D. Pellegrino; Alan I. Faden. Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: An Ecumenical Dialogue. Georgetown University Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9781589013506.
- Anthony Fisher (2011). Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium. Cambridge University Press. pp. 238–239. ISBN 9781139504881.
- David F. Kelly; Gerard Magill; Henk ten Have (2013). Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics. Georgetown University Press. pp. 32–38. ISBN 9781589019614.
- Scaria Kanniyakonil (2007). The Fundamentals of Bioethics: Legal Perspectives and Ethical Aproches. Oriental Institute of Religious Studies India. pp. 229–230. ISBN 9788188456284.
- "George Carlin: Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life".
- Barry, Robert Laurence (2002). The Sanctity of Human Life and Its Protection. Lanham: University Press of America.
- Bayertz, Kurt (ed.) (1996). Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity. Philosophy and Medicine; v. 52. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic.
- Bernardin, Joseph Louis; et al. (1988). Consistent Ethic of Life. Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward.
- Kass, Leon R. (March 1990). "Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life". Commentary. New York: American Jewish Committee. 89 (3): 33–43. ISSN 0010-2601.
- Keyserlingk, Edward W. (1979). Sanctity of Life: or, Quality of Life in the Context of Ethics, Medicine, and Law: A Study. Protection of Life Series. Ottawa: Law Reform Commission of Canada.
- Kohl, Marvin (1974). The Morality of Killing; Sanctity of Life, Abortion, and Euthanasia. New York: Humanities Press.
- Kuhse, Helga (1987). The Sanctity-of-Life Doctrine in Medicine: A Critique. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- McCormick, Richard A. (1981). "The Quality of Life and the Sanctity of Life". How Brave a New World?: Dilemmas in bioethics. New York: Doubleday: 383–402.
- Singer, Peter (2002). Unsanctifying Human Life: essays on ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Wildes, Kevin Wm.; Francesc Abel; John C. Harvey (1992). Birth, Suffering, and Death: Catholic Perspectives at the Edges of Life. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic.