The Right to Life: A Perspective of Young Palestinian Muslims
This paper examines the attitudes of 905 Bethlehem area Muslim males and females between the ages of 13 and 32 (M = 17.8) in regard to the right to life. Specifically, we examined three situations (and some variants) in which the right to life is at issue: abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. We found support for the statement that abortion is forbidden because it is the taking of human life. There is some ambiguity in this position, in that Islam allows abortion for serious reasons during the first 120 days of pregnancy, because God is not said to have infused humanness into the baby until after that time, when it is potentially human and must be respected. There was support for abortion to protect the life of the mother in regard to physical health but not to protect psychological health, prevent economic strain, or if the child would have serious problems. The attitude toward euthanasia was negative, even when there was immitigable suffering. Opposition to the death penalty was not supported, consistent with a certain Muslim position that, under specific conditions, the death penalty serves justice. There was the most explained variability in regard to the prohibition of abortion in general, the prohibition of euthanasia in general, and non-support of prohibiting the death penalty. We found attitudes basically consistent with Islamic teaching in regard to these life issues.
KeywordsRight to life Abortion Euthanasia Death penalty Muslim Islam Religion God Society Empathy Human dignity
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