Matters of Life and Death explores the rights and wrongs of some of life’s biggest questions. Captured as beautiful and engaging short documentary portraits, these powerful and thought-provoking real-life stories present students with personal perspectives on important issues in religion, morality and ethics; based on major themes explored in Key Stage 4 Religious Studies and Ethics lessons.
From whether it is okay to have an abortion – through to thoughts on the death penalty and euthanasia, the film poses stimulating questions such as: , ‘Is assisted suicide murder or is it kind to relieve those that are suffering?’; ‘When does life begin?’; and ‘Is it ever right to start a war?’. Students are encouraged to think critically and discuss the positions they personally occupy, relating them to their own beliefs and experiences. The film includes representatives of different faiths and religions explaining their perspective on the topics covered in the film. Topics include: Abortion, Assisted Suicide, the notion of having a Saviour Sibling, the Death Penalty, Animal Testing and War. Narrated by Romola Garai.
Individuals clips of the film are available on BBC’s Learning Zone.
What are the rights and wrongs of abortion?
This film explores some of the ethical and moral questions around the issue of abortion, and focuses on Anna and Marie whose life experiences have left them on contrasting sides of a debate. Anna, having had an abortion at the age of 17, believes everyone should have the right to choose if they want to be a parent. Marie, a mother of a young daughter with Down’s Syndrome, believes that every child has the right to live. The film poses the question: what are the rights and wrongs of abortion?
Is it ever right to experiment on animals?
Christina’s and James’ life experiences have left them on different sides of a debate. 22-year old James was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was five weeks old and is dependent on medication to stay alive - medication that has been tested on animals. Christina, a passionate animal rights campaigner, believes that experimenting on animals is ethically wrong and should be banned entirely. The film poses the question: is it ever right to experiment on animals?
What are the rights and wrongs of the death penalty?
Tom's cousin Lynn was kidnapped, raped and brutally murdered at the age of 17. Her murderer was sentenced to death and executed by the State of Florida. Tom believes that the death penalty has brought justice for Lynn, and closure for himself and his family. Joe was charged with aggravated murder and sentenced to death in the State of Ohio. After spending 22 years on death row his case was dismissed and he was exonerated. He now vigorously campaigns against the death penalty. The film poses the question: what are the rights and wrongs of the death penalty?
When is it right to go to war?
Patrick was 18 years old when New York was attacked on September 11th 2001. As a direct result of those events he left his college course and joined the US Army, believing that this was the best way to defend his country. Terry lost her younger sister in those same attacks, but she believes that war is never the solution to conflict, and continuously campaigns for peace today. The film poses the question: when is it right to go to war?
Should assisted suicide be legalised?
This film looks at the viewpoints of Charlotte and Paul whose life experiences have left them on opposing sides of the very controversial topic of assisted suicide. After a very serious accident 23 years ago, Paul was left almost completely paralysed. Receiving round-the-clock care, he believes that everyone should have the right to assisted suicide. Charlotte works as a hospice doctor and looks after patients suffering from a terminal illness. She thinks we should care for people until the end of their lives, and that others should never be put in a position of helping end someone else’s life. The film poses the question: should assisted suicide be legalised?
Is it OK to have a child to save another?
When Ami's young son Jivan was diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome, a rare immune deficiency disease, she decided to give birth to another child, a Saviour Sibling, in order to save Jivan. Simon however, a biochemist, believes that a child should never be created for their genetic material, and that there should be laws to prevent this happening. The film poses the question: is it okay to have one child to save another?