When does human life really begin?By Jaime T. Licauco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The raging controversy between the pro- and anti-reproductive health (RH) law has pushed Supreme Court justices and legislators to ask the fundamental question of when life begins.
The anti-RH group says that “life begins at the time the female ovum is fertilized by the male sperm.” The pro-RH group, on the other hand, says that “life begins when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus of the mother.”
I think both sides are asking the wrong question, because there is already life even before the ovum and the sperm meet, in the same manner that a papaya seed is already alive even before you plant it in the soil.
It is a matter of common sense that the dead or a nonliving thing cannot produce life. Therefore, life can only proceed or come from something alive. I think any biologist will agree with this.
To my thinking, the correct question that should be asked by both contending parties is this: “When does human life begin?” This is more difficult to answer, and there will be less agreement and more controversy here.
Let us begin with some definitions so we know what we are talking about, because people tend to use the same words to mean different things or use different words to mean the same thing. This is why the great French philosopher Voltaire said, “If you wish to speak with me, define your terms.”
Levels of souls
So, if I remember correctly my college studies in philosophy and theology, the soul is defined as “the principle of life.” Therefore every living thing has a soul. But there are three different types or levels of souls.
First is the vegetative soul, which is the soul of plants. Its characteristic is limited to reproduction and growth, no sensation or emotion (although researchers Cleve Backster and Marcel Vogel may dispute this).
Second is the sentient soul, which is the soul of animals, the main characteristics of which are reproduction, movement and sensation.
And third is the rational soul which is the soul of human beings, whose main characteristics, aside from the above, are its ability to reason and to be aware of itself.
The above classification of souls will be disputed by the ancient Kahunas of Hawaii, who believe that humans have five types of souls or minds, not only one, but that is another story.
So back to our topic, the question that those two contending parties of the RH law should ask is not “when life begins,” but “when does the human soul enter the body?”
Is there a way to answer this question? Yes, but Christians will not agree with it, although it may be agreed upon by Buddhists, Hindus and Zoroastrians.
This question, “When did you enter the body?” was actually asked by American psychologist Dr. Helen Wambach, who hypnotized and regressed 3,000 subjects to remember their past lives, producing some 5,000 regressions.
The answers given varied from the first six months of pregnancy (11 percent), at the end of six months (12 percent), the last three months (39 percent), before birth (33 percent) and even after birth (5 percent).
Therefore, according to this study, the time the human soul enters the body is not fixed at fertilization or conception, as the Catholic Church and the anti-RH law argue. It varies from individual to individual, assuming that the process of past life hypnotic regression is valid.
But can anybody prove this? The answer is no! Therefore, the raging controversy cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of every contending party.
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