Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it "life"?

Definition '1' of the Oxford dictionary defines "life" as:

"the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth and functional activity." [http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/life?view=uk]

In order for life to be created, existing organic elements must be present and of course must be compatible in order to produce an offspring. A new creation will not manifest unless the conditions for creation are met. In the case of creation, a single male sperm must penetrate the outer-most membrane of the ovum in order for fertilisation to occur. The sperm and the ovum are organic living matter, and thus newly created organic matter is the product of this fusion: the zygote.

Cellular divisions begin almost immediately after conception has taken place; life, in its simplest definition, has begun and continues during the nine-month gestation period and will continue until natural death. There is no denying that even in womb in the very earlier stages of human development, there is life, thus artificial termination of the unborn inside the womb, by definition, is the termination of life.

But is it "human"?

Philosophers have argued endlessly on when the growing child inside the womb in considered to be "human". After all, what we consider to be human is two arms, two legs, two eyes, hair, eyebrows, fingers, finger-nails, etc., i.e. something that "resembles" a human being. We are not, however, conceived this way, that is when conception takes place, distinguishing human features are not present, at least not yet.

Even pro-choicers and pro-abortionists agree that in order for human conception to take place, one human male sperm and one human female ovum is required for fertilisation where, as afore-mentioned, life begins and the life is in its very early stages of human development. The zygote is a human zygote; the embryo is a human embryo; the fetus is a human fetus. There is no denying that the abortion of a child at ANY stage of its development inside the womb is the destruction of human life.

The law (the courts) will say that the human zygote, embryo and fetus (any stage of human development) is not legally human, at least not until birth, but let's keep in mind that legally and by law slavery was [in the past] acceptable; that in some parts of the world polygamy is acceptable; in some parts of the world it is illegal to sleep naked; in some parts of the world bestiality is legal; and right here in Australia children, while they are not allowed to purchase cigarettes, they can smoke them. What's the point? Well sometimes, actually, MOST of the time, the law does not make sense, or at least it is driven by someone's or a party's agenda, i.e.the law may be designed to discriminate or benefit.

So what makes it okay to take human life while it is still developing inside the womb or even weeks away from natural birth? What's the excuse? Is it now the concept of "personhood"? Definition '1' of the Oxford dictionary defines "Person" as:

"a human being regarded as an individual." [http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/person?view=uk]

Is it a human "being"? Yes it is! The zygote, embryo and fetus are all states of being human, i.e. stage of human development. By merely existing, a child inside the womb is demonstrating the human state at any given time. In other words, this is what a human looks like inside the womb in the first week, first month, first trimester, second trimester, 30th week, etc. It is certainly a human being, no matter what stage of development it's in. Being human is more than just having two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, etc. Don't forget that science can determine species by examining any part of its tissue or bodily fluids. If a chimpanzee and a human being were victims in an obliterating explosion, scientists could determine species by examining tissue or fluid samples and distinguish one from the other because of basic genetic differences.

When does a human become a person? Is it when the human can express individuality in a given manner? While a zygote, embryo or fetus cannot express individuality, tangibly, for example like uttering its name, where it lives, what it does for a living, or showing what colour eyes it has, hair it has, like we all can do, scientifically it is already an individual. Already, biologically, the newly created life is unlike any other conceived before or after it, even in the case of identical (monozygotic) twins, although differences between monozygotic twins manifest depending on when egg division takes place (more intricate DNA studies can determine very subtle differences in DNA and genome structure - http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=identical-twins-genes-are-not-identical). A couple of distinguishing differences in monozygotic twins is their finger prints which begin to form roughly eight weeks in to gestation, and the pattern in which their taste buds take form (no taste bud "arrangement" between people is alike).

In conclusion:

Yes, it is life;
Yes, it is human;
Yes, by definition it is a person in that individuality has already manifested, even at conception - it is a unique and distinguishable creation;
Yes, abortion is the destruction of an innocent life.

We can only hope, as alluded to earlier, that the courts and legislative councils world-wide will come to their senses and recognise that humanhood begins at conception, and that just as killing a child outside the womb is considered murder, as is terminating the life during gestation. Making abortions "lawful" does not make it right.

It's time to provide life-giving alternatives to abortion, and the first step is education! Everyone needs to be aware of the miracle and scientific wonder that takes place at conception and that should end at natural death.

* * * * *
For information on what the Catholic Church teaches on the issue of abortion, then please visit the following sites (recommended reading):

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm - Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 2270 to 2275).
http://www.catholic.com/library/Abortion.asp - Scriptural and doctrinal pro-life arguments.
http://www.lifesitenews.com/fetaldevelopment/ - Information on fetal development.
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2006/0609uan.asp - The principle of Double Effect.

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