Inner Awareness

When does human life really begin?


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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  • riza888

    Every new life begins at conception. This is an irrefutable fact of biology. The point is not when does human life begin, but when does it really begin to matter?

  • bgcorg

    “Conception,” as the very word suggests, means a new, separate being resulting from the union of the ovum and the one sperm that would exist distinctly from just being a mere sperm or a mere ovum. Thus, even in ordinary language, “an idea is conceived,” while the expression “pregnant with ideas” suggest that the idea is already there and is just “contained” similar to pregnancy. Pregnancy refers to the state or period of being “contained” in the womb of the mother which presupposes that there is already something there to be contained, nurtured and grow into fuller development. In f act, fertilization or conception occurs before pregnancy, and unlike the latter which refers directly to the mother, refers to the start of a “new” being, of being conceived: the zygote in fact, on its own movement (a sure sign of life) moves from the Fallopian Tube to implant itself in the endometrium wall of the uterus, signaling “pregnancy” a new stage of the unborn human’s life (already), when the human fetus for the period of pregnancy, grows in the environment for its nourishment in the female uterus. The general understanding among physicians, bound by their Hippocratic oath, is that life begins at conception, when a new idea or being begins to exist on its own before the period of pregnancy occurs. The RH Law, regrettably subscribes to a Guttmacher Institute definition that limits life to the implantation of the Zygote in the uterus, clearly a sectarian or parochial definition, against the equal protection clause of the Constitution that protects life “from the moment of conception to natural death,” not just from the moment of implantation of the living zygote in the endometrium wall of the uterus. Even if the discussion is limited to the text alone of the Constitution, it is clear that life is protected “from the moment of conception.” Anyway, even if there is doubt as to when life begins (which is out of the question here, as only God knows) or the controversial application of regression hypnosis to a Constitutional question, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the living, self-propelling, moving zygote, an unborn human, though early yet in its development. The question posed to the SC Justices is quite simple, and the answer should be unanimous, as the Constitution is the rock bed of our freedoms: to life, from want, speech and religion!

  • Beersheva

    You can kill anybody up to about middle age. ‘Di ba life begins at 40?

  • disqus_nBEsUalTvo

    Human life begins at conception as revealed to me by God.

    • boboposter


  • boboposter

    Jaime Licauco is stupidd enough not to understand context.

    When the debate is about when life begins, does Jaime think that we’re talking about the life of a dog, a cat? How the hell does he understand things???

  • @ThirdyBaladjay

    The conclusion of the author is very blurred about the issue but clear enough to say that the Philippine government has been spending a huge amount of our people’s treasury for a vague cause or a vague action! we have legislators to discuss these issues to attain a common law favorable for everyone. but as I read the article, the author is suggesting to stop this issue at once because in the first place both parties are standing on wrong grounds and therefore, will arrive on wrong destinations…

    This issue of RH Bill should be centered on the question “When does MY OWN LIFE begun?” You see? Our legislators decision-making trend always centers on other human being. Because-I-am-here-I-have-the-right mentality is always their rule? Did their daughters cry when they dropped their fetus accidentally? Or maybe they laugh at their daughters? It’s the question of the WILL. It’s murder when you put an end to a human life. But some of our legislators are deciding on an issue regarding death as “legal”. Can they imagine their mother deciding them to be dead?

    • nadA

      I agree with you. Our legislators are debating (while spending our precious taxes) on the issue that is really beyond their jurisdiction.

  • beboergosum

    Whose perspective?
    I once worked in a feminist organization. One day I happened to use a piece of paper which had seemed to me to be no longer important. Yes, there were some writings here and there but it was just lying there on a table with no one minding it, Besides, there are other clean and useful papers by the side and I just chose the one which I thought no longer needed. When the owner of the paper (an angry feminist) learned what I did with the paper, she went into a violent rage and berated and degraded me in the presence of everyone. Then I asked her, why the rage when she could just use another one. She yelled at me, “This is a blue print to my project, idiot!” It was then that I posed to her the challenge (partly as an insult, and partly to push a long held doubt about contraceptives), “You speak a word like an engineer who is loosing a finished and neatly done blue print. But how is it that you ever care to use contraceptives and condoms, when to the mind of the creator, and even science, a fertilized human ovum is a blue print to life?” Everyone stopped on their track, and you can hear a pin drop. I left the organization then, and became pro-life since.

  • BCon

    In Islam, Muslims believe that it is on the 120th day of the fetus when an angel comes and breathes life to it (Hadith 2:55 – 4:42), meaning, before the 120th day, the embryo can still be aborted. According to them, this is scientifically and medically proven to be true. Just saying.

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