Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lagman grasping at straws

Life begins at conception, Lagman insists

MANILA, Philippines—Contrary to the position of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), a staunch advocate of the reproductive health bill in Congress affirmed that life begins at conception, and not during fertilization.

Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said this issue has long been resolved by the Constitution and medical authorities, and that the debate on when life starts should not stunt the passage of the reproductive health bill.

“The issue on whether life begins upon fertilization or at the onset of conception has long been resolved by the 1987 Constitution and reputable medical authorities worldwide in favor of conception or when the fertilized ovum implants in the uterus,” Lagman said in a statement Friday.

Earlier, the PMA through its president Dr. Oscar Tinio bared the stand of the organization that the “beginning of life” occurred at the moment of fertilization, a view shared by the Catholic Church.
Ayan na. Rep Anthony Golez was right in insisting that this particular point gets to be cleared first.

Earlier, the Philippine Medical Association thru its president Dr. Oscar Tinio, has affirmed that life begins at fertilization. This has prompted anti-RH bill advocate Roilo Golez to say that the PMA definition thwarts the belief by the advocates of the bill that “life begins at implantation,” and that any move supporting the RH would be unconstitutional, in reference to Section II Article 12 which states - "[The State] shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception."

Staunch RH-bill advocate and Albay Rep. Lagman however, remains undeterred. He likes to believe that the word conception in the Constitution refers to implantation and not fertilization. According to Lagman, Father Joaquin Bernas, a commissioner of the Constitutional Commission, initially proposed for inclusion in the Bill of Rights the following provision: “The right to life extends to the fertilized ovum.”. Lagman claims that the proposal did not materialize, and its non-adoption “unmistakably shows that the concept that life begins at fertilization was not constitutionalized for lack of concurrence from the commissioners,”.


I believe the fate of the RH bill now rests on this single point - whether the Constitution means fertilization or implantation with the term "conception". Lagman cites Fr Bernas to bolster his argument that the Constitution does not refer to fertilization, however Fr Bernas has asserted many times in the past that the constitutional provision referred to the very moment of fertilization. It is worth noting that the particular sponsor of that particular Constitutional provision in Section II is the economist Bernardo Villegas, who recently affirmed thus -

"It was, therefore, the intent of the large majority of the framers of the Constitution of 1987 to define conception as fertilization. No amount of further debate will change that. Only a charter change can modify that conclusion."

I knew that at a certain point, the RH-bill advocates will have to face this issue squarely, whether they like it or not. Clear out all the smokescreen arguments, please. Lagman is now grasping at straws. Huli ka.

“it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life. Just to repeat: first, there is obviously life because it starts to nourish itself, it starts to grow as any living being, and it is human because at the moment of fertilization, the chromosomes that combined in the fertilized ovum are the chromosomes that are uniquely found in human beings and are not found in any other living being”

(Record of the Constitutional Commission, Volume 4, p. 668).

"The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception, that conception takes place at fertilization"

(Record of the Constitutional Commission 799, cited in Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila: 1996 ed., p. 78)


Jomari Baay said...

sir i just would like to clarify that the Article 12 section 2 is incorrect.... it should be Article 2 Section 12 (Declaration of Principles and State Policies)

on the other hand...your argument for me is right... as per interpreted by Hector de Leon of one of his book. " life begins when female egg and the male sperm merge at fertilization".

WillyJ said...

Thanks for pointing it out. Nagka balikdat :-)