Up­hold­ing re­spect for life

Does the em­bryo pos­sess any rights? It’s a hu­man be­ing from con­cep­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY REV. JOSEPH PAL­LIY­O­DIL

The at­tempt of the ad­vo­cacy group Abor­tion Ac­cess Now P.E.I. to sue the govern­ment re­gard­ing abor­tion rights seems strange and a chal­lenge to all those who love life and try to pro­tect the dig­nity and value of hu­man life. The spokes­woman pre­tends that she is speak­ing on be­half of all women in P.E.I. But I be­lieve the ma­jor­ity of women in P.E.I. love life and will not favour abor­tion. It is not fair, how­ever, for the ideas of a few be­ing pre­sented as the opin­ion of all.

The main rea­son be­hind this move­ment is the claim that preven­tion of ac­cess to do abor­tions in P.E.I. hospi­tals is a vi­o­la­tion of the fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights for equal­ity and free­dom. They see that P.E.I.’s abor­tion pol­icy vi­o­lates the right of Is­land women to equal ac­cess to ‘ba­sic health care ser­vices’ un­der the equal­ity rights pro­vi­sions.

How can we in­clude abor­tion in the sys­tem of ba­sic health care ser­vices? Since the aim of any health care ser­vice is to help to pro­tect and safe­guard life, it is a para­dox to con­sider abor­tion as a ba­sic health care ser­vice. More than the pro-choice ac­tivists, it is the hu­man em­bryo who de­serves a right for ac­cess to ba­sic health care ser­vices, namely to pro­tect and safe­guard its life.

Is not the life grow­ing in the womb of a woman a hu­man per­son? Does that per­son have any rights? Who will ar­gue for his/her rights?

There is no need to search in the Bi­ble or the­ol­ogy to get an an­swer for the moral worth of a hu­man per­son. The ad­vance­ment in the field of hu­man ge­net­ics has proved the fact that from the union of sperm and ova, the zy­gote with 46 chro­mo­somes car­ries the full ge­netic in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing its life and grows ac­cord­ing to the pro­gramme al­ready in­scribed in the genes.

This truth points to the fact that from the mo­ment of con­cep­tion ev­ery hu­man life is a po­ten­tial hu­man per­son. There­fore, from the be­gin­ning of con­cep­tion, the hu­man em­bryo must be con­sid­ered as a hu­man per­son and nat­u­rally the hu­man em­bryo has the full rights and free­dom of choice like any grown up in­di­vid­ual and the so­ci­ety has an obli­ga­tion to re­spect his dig­nity and rights.

Those who deny per­son­hood of the em­bryo due to the lack of man­i­fes­ta­tion of ca­pac­i­ties like an adult, high mor­tal­ity rate or ge­netic ab­nor­mal­ity must re­al­ize the fact that the value of a hu­man be­ing does not con­sist of the ca­pac­i­ties or at­tributes but in the fact that we are hu­man per­sons. The worth of a hu­man be­ing ei­ther in the form of em­bryo or fe­tus or in any other stage of life is in­trin­sic.

A hu­man per­son grow­ing in the womb is the most vul­ner­a­ble: has no voice to raise, un­able to or­ga­nize protests for their rights, and can­not file a suite against those who at­tack his or her life. The govern­ment and all those who are keep­ing a con­science of good will must think also of the rights of the hu­man em­bryo and must dare to come for­ward to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble in the so­ci­ety.

I be­lieve that the progress and pros­per­ity of a so­ci­ety is based on the val­ues it up­holds to safe­guard the dig­nity of each hu­man in­di­vid­ual from the mo­ment of con­cep­tion to its nat­u­ral end. No doubt if P.E.I. can stand to­gether firm on its prin­ci­ples, re­spect­ing the dig­nity and value of hu­man life, as a so­ci­ety we can be proud of our pol­icy of be­ing a model to other provinces as well to other coun­tries who cre­ated laws against the fun­da­men­tal nat­u­ral rights, nat­u­ral jus­tice and dig­nity of hu­man per­sons. It will raise our dig­nity as a so­ci­ety that up­holds the re­spect for life and cher­ishes the fun­da­men­tal val­ues of hu­man­ity.

Rev. Joseph Pal­liy­o­dil is serv­ing as pas­tor

of St. Malachy’ Parish Pas­toral Unit, Kinkora. He has a PhD in moral the­ol­ogy from the Pon­tif­i­cal Holy Cross Univer­sity

in Rome.

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