Favor For A Friend

Friendships are important to me. I think that there is nothing sadder than dying alone and friendless. (http://m.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/09/joyce-vincent-death-mystery-documentary)


So as a favor to my friend, I am posting her article which some publication has not deemed fit for mass consumption (her words, not mine).

When Life Begins: Thoughts on the RH Law.

Two days ago, proponents and dissidents of the RH Law went head-to-head at the Supreme Court of the Philippines to air their respective thoughts on the Reproductive Health Law. The Pro’s wore purple, while the Anti’s wore red. The crux of the debate on that particular day was: when does life begin. The Anti-RH camp wants the Supreme Court to give a lawmaker’s definition of the beginning of life. SC Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno put her foot down saying the SC won’t be making judgments on metaphysical matters.

That was just appropriate, I would think. I am a doctor. I spent 7 years of my life after high school studying the human body in all its pain and glory. I spent 4 years assisting women give birth. And two years treating children with reproductive tract problems. And I don’t have any idea when life begins!

You may ask the biologists. And I would bet my last centavo that the majority of them, or at least the ones who are intellectually honest, will tell you that they don’t know as well.

The problem is we can’t even define what Life is!

The Merriam & Webster’s Dictionary (as culled from Google) gave these definitions:

a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body

b : a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings

c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction

How can one possibly make a definition of human life (emphasis on human) based on these?

If it’s any of the above, then a sperm cell is human life. Henceforth, jacking off (masturbation) would be mortal sin. If Mr. Kit Tatad has never masturbated or had a wet dream his whole life, then he’s more God-like than I thought and is worthy of my eternal admiration.

What I learned in Embryology is that human life is a process. There are high-fallutin terms to describe the process – acrosomal reaction, fertilization, implantation, fetal development. Do we really have to pin down the essence of our humanity based on the definition of each stage of this process? I would think that to be human is to become more than the sum of sperm+egg or implantation/embryogenesis.

I would think being human is that woman I saw this morning, heaving and grunting to get her 4th offspring out into this world, an offspring that she claims she doesn’t want; but will love anyway. She has no choice but to have that offspring now, even when she is not ready, because she didn’t know what contraception meant.

I love Pope Francis and these are his words: the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out.In all probability, he was not referring to me. But I have faith in the RH Law. It may be flawed, as our science is flawed, but it is all we have for now.


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