Science has proven that there is human life from the moment of conception, the archbishop affirmed, hence, the new being already has a soul and a spirit.The archbishop was explaining the teaching in Dignitatis Personae, an Instruction published by the CDF last year. (A useful summary of the Instruction, by Dr (Fr) John I Fleming, the leading bioethicist, can be found here.)
He explained: "If it is a human, it is always a person. There is nothing abstract in him."
From the moment the zygote begins to exist there is no change in its nature, he said.
Interestingly, Dame Mary Warnock, whose thinking was used by the British Government in 1990 to justify the legalisation of human embryo experimentation up to 14 days, also concluded that, from conception, the nature of the human embryo does not change.
In July 1982, the British Government invited Mary Warnock to chair a Committee of Inquiry into the ‘social, ethical and legal implications of recent, and potential developments in the field of human assisted reproduction’. The report of that committee is called the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, Cmnd. 9314, London, 1984.
Read carefully in the next paragraph, taken from the report, the argument which Mary Warnock used to justify lethal experiments on human embryos, up to the 14th day after conception:
"While, as we have seen, the timing of the different stages of development is critical, once the process has begun there is no particular part of the developmental process that is more important than another; all are part of a continuous process, and unless each stage takes place normally, at the correct time, and in the correct sequence, further development will cease. Thus biologically there is no one single identifiable stage in the development of the embryo beyond which the in vitro embryo should not be kept alive. However we agreed that this was an area in which some precise decision must be taken, in order to allay public anxiety.” (My emphasis)In other words (my comments in italics):
“ … once the process has begun … ”: Since this paragraph is all about allowing experiments up to the 14th day after conception, this phrase clearly refers to the moment of conception.
“ … there is no particular part of the developmental process that is more important than another … ”: the Warnock Committee admits there’s no special significance whatsoever (biological or philosophical) about the 14th day after conception, or any other day after conception. The significant thing is that a human life has begun.
“ … Thus biologically there is no one single identifiable stage in the development of the embryo beyond which the in vitro embryo should not be kept alive … ”: Put plainly, whatever the age of the embryo or unborn child he or she should not really be killed.
“ … However we agreed that this was an area in which some precise decision must be taken, in order to allay public anxiety … ” The Committee decided to make a completely arbitrary decision in order to fool Parliament and the public into thinking that they had reached a profound conclusion based on weighty scientific evidence, and so we've plumped for 14 days. As Clarke and Linsey noted " … this is a clear case of extrinsic criteria being used to solve a problem which requires the determination of firm and unequivocal intrinsic criteria ... "(Clarke, P.A.B. and A. Linzey Research on Embryos: Politics, Theology and Law. Lester Crook, London, 1988, p. 26.)
Archbishop Ladaria observes in his talk to university students last week that thinking like this led to the concentration camps. Zenit reports:
"Why do Christians give so much importance to the concept of person?" the archbishop asked.The idea of personhood applying to all human beings, including the unborn child from the beginning of his or her existence, is by no means an exclusively religious concept. It's the universal consensus of humanity as expressed in international human rights instruments, as I explained in my closing address to the 4th World Pro-Life Congress in Saragossa, Spain, last weekend (which is available in English, Spanish and Italian).
The prelate affirmed: "Man and woman have been created in the image and likeness of God.
"The concept of person is essential for approaches to the mystery of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Man is a person, Christ is a person in his relationship with the Father; he is Son."
Archbishop Ladaria pointed out that this type of argument is ignored when ideologies are promoted that go against life. Often, he lamented, man "is considered a number."
The prelate recalled: "In concentration camps they wanted to eliminate human dignity, so they gave a number. This is a way of offending the person, of reducing him."
Dignity, he explained, goes beyond a number, and is related to "unique and unrepeatable characteristics."
Tragically, on the basis of Dame Mary Warnock’s report, which, on its own admission, arbitrarily ignored the right to life of the human embryo, Parliament went on in 1990 to legalise destructive research on human embryos for the following purposes: promoting advances in the treatment of infertility; increasing knowledge about the causes of miscarriage; increasing knowledge about the causes of congenital disease; developing more effective techniques of contraception; developing methods for detecting the presence of gene or chromosome abnormalities in embryos before implantation; or for such other purposes as may be specified in regulations; and last year Parliament approved the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, amending the 1990 law, which approved the licensing of more procedures that will harm or kill embryos created in the laboratory and which extends the ways in which embryos can be artificially created and manipulated - including hybrid (animal-human) embryos.
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