Saturday, July 19, 2008

Leaping mass of tissue

The raging debate on the "Reproductive Health and Population Management Bills" can
largely be attributed to the contradicting premises adopted. It is curious that in the July 18th
issue of the the Philippine Star, such countervailing premises are highlighted in
stark contrast by two columnists on adjacent pages in the Opinion section. Ms. Ana Marie
Pamintuan's "Sketches" column on page 16 entitled "Passion", well, passionately aligns her advocacy towards pro-choice. Atty Jose C. Sison on the other hand, on page 17 of his "A Law each day" column entitled "A Bishop's courageous stand", picks up the cudgels for pro-life. The lawyer in him seems to adhere to divine law as well. As an outstanding example, it appears that it is near to impossible that the two columnists would be capable of coming to terms on the issue of abortion, precisely because they hold contrasting mindsets based on the fundamental premise on when life begins. Ms. Pamintuan frames the dissonance very adequately, as some excerpts from her column deftly illustrates:

"The Church, it must be emphasized, has been consistent in its stand on matters such as birth control, sex and the start of life. It toes the Vatican line and tells the government what it thinks on matters such as family planning and divorce."

The statement that the Church toes the Vatican line, seems to connote to the author that the Church has the option of NOT toeing the Vatican line. The Church and the Vatican are ONE and the same, and it is immaterial to talk about toeing the Vatican line. Anyway, Ms Pamintuan already stated that the Church "has been consistent in its stand", and so talking about "toeing" the Vatican line is pretty much superfluous.

"The Church teaches that sex is chiefly for procreation, that life starts in the womb right at fertilization, and that if the process would be controlled at all, it should be through the natural method. Those basic teachings go against a global culture that puts emphasis on sex for enjoyment and as an expression of deep affection, but rarely for making babies."

The contention that "those basic teachings go against a global culture" clearly espouses a relativist/pluralist mentality, a classic secularist approach to morality. The corollary is that the majority must always be right. The Catholic concept of what is objectively right for the common good is based on the divine and natural law, irrespective of whether such goes against the grain of popularity.

"The Church teaches that sex is chiefly for procreation, that life starts in the womb right at fertilization,...Concepts about the start of life are a matter of personal belief. There are women who believe an amorphous, tiny mass in the womb is no place for a soul, which is associated with life as perceived by Catholics."

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Pro-choice considers that a human being at the earliest stage of life is nothing more than an “amorphous, tiny mass” of human tissue. The Church contends that a new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. If the baby's life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman. A fertilized ovum is a human being at an early stage of life. Personal beliefs to the contrary doesn't change that scientific fact. When birth control methods like IUD's, pills and injectibles prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus, it is the same as aborting a life. When pro-choice advocates usually emphasize the right of the woman to her body, they conveniently ignore the right of another live, human being to life. When pro-choice advocates refer to a timeline as to when the foetus becomes a human being, it is usually at the point of viability (as in Roe vs Wade) wherein it is acceptable to abort a foetus less than 11 weeks old. A typical 10-week old baby is illustrated here.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41).

Certainly not a “mass of tissue” leaping there.

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