Sanctity of Life

Click on the links below to hear young people debating what it is to be human and discussing issues including capital punishment and stem-cell research.

' could save their life, or make it much better...'

' can't compare an animal's life to a human's...'

'...two wrongs don't make a right...'

''s all down to what you can do...'

' his life worth living...'

A transcript of these extracts is also available as a pdf. This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website.

Classroom Activity

Divide the class into four groups and assign each one with one of the following identities:

  • animal rights activist
  • terminally ill patient
  • a convicted criminal awaiting execution
  • a person whose foetus has a severe birth defect

Give students time to research their characters before giving them the following role play situations to perform in front of others in their group.

Terminally ill patient

One of you is terminally ill with a heart condition; the other a law-abiding doctor with strong Christian beliefs. Have a discussion about euthanasia.

One of you works in a clinic in Switzerland which is the only clinic that supports assisted suicide. The other is the child of someone who is terminally ill and wants to end their life.

Animal rights activist

One of you is a strict vegan who believes that all forms of life need to be respected; the other is critically ill and the only drugs that may help you are developed through animal testing.

One of you is a Buddhist practitioner who believes that all life is sacred; the other is a farmer who supports fox hunting.


You are a couple expecting your first child. You have just found out that the baby has a hole in its heart and is not expected to live for long.

One of you is an eighteen old girl who has just found out she is pregnant; the other her very good Muslim friend.

Capital punishment

One of you is a convicted, reformed criminal on death row; the other is the executioner.

One of you is a Jewish judge about to sentence the other, whom the jury has just found guilty of murder.