Nigel Biggar suggests one way in which Christian faith can make a distinctive contribution to medical ethics.
I think Christian faith can make a relatively distinctive contribution to thinking about medical ethical problems. I mean, depending on the problem, it may be a different contribution, but here’s one example. I have been quite heavily involved in public debate about whether to legalise assisted suicide and the debate, you know, there are pros and cons and I recognise there are pros and cons. But one thing I’ve noticed is that, as a Christian, I am familiar with the notion of sin. Personally, I am quite familiar with it. And I just assume that other people do it too, and from what I observe, they do tend to. Therefore, the possibility of people not obeying laws, or physicians taking shortcuts with procedures, physicians not being aware that relatives are persuading their burdensome elderly parents that they really are a waste of space … as a Christian I’m not surprised; I’m saddened but I’m not surprised by it. That affects my view of whether it would be prudent to legalise doctors to kill their patients at request. Because I do think there will be abuse.
And I do notice that those on the other side of debate – usually not Christian, usually well-meaning liberal folk – have to me an astoundingly naïve view of … not of our capacity to draft a precise law or a set of procedures, but astoundingly naïve in terms of how they think real human beings under pressure are going to operate in those structures. So in this case, I find as a Christian what I regard as a realistic – not a pessimistic, but a realistic view of human motivation and human weakness makes me take a very cautious and conservative line on this issue where my more starry-eyed Enlightenment-liberal fellow citizens … well, they seem to me to be starry-eyed.