Margaret Brazier
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Human life, common law and Christianity
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Chapter 6 explores the influence of Christianity in shaping secular laws relating to moral dilemmas in medicine dilemmas, which might now be described as bioethical questions. What is perceived to be the persistent influence of Christian theology in shaping the law on matters of life and death is decried in a country where fewer and fewer people practise that faith. The common law has long addressed debates about the nature of human life, beginning and ending human lives. The chapter will contend that while Christian tradition undoubtedly played a part in forming English law relating to the protection and value of human life, religion was only one factor, and maybe not the principal factor, in the formation of legal principles applicable to the value of life. The common law is seen to display a strong theme of pragmatism and a focus on the maintenance of the King’s Peace. The chapter addresses euthanasia, suicide and what makes an entity legally human.

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