Upholding respect for life
Does the embryo possess any rights? It’s a human being from conception
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