By Fr. Ambrose J. Bwangatto
I read in the New Vision of Tuesday, September 3, 2013 page 4 where the message of the Minister of State for Health, Sarah Opendi, suggested that abortion should be legalised so that women may enjoy full health and also avoid maternal mortality.
As a minister, of course, Sarah Opendi is concerned with the promotion of health and reduces mortality but also she attempts to suggest something practical to achieve this. By virtue of her office, she is commended for being concerned with women’s health and her resolve to work towards the same objective.
But what baffles me is whether of all the prolife methods available, abortion is the most immediate and urgent and safe method to advocate for women’s health! What is so fancy about abortion? I find it perplexing for the health officials and policy makers to always propose controversial procedures like abortion to advocate for safe motherhood. Abortion has been and will remain a contested topic because, although, it has existed throughout history and amongst all peoples, but no particular society has given an outright approval of this procedure. This is so, because it is brutal, traumatising and degrading to the dignity of the human person.
There are three premises that provide us with the solid foundation for arguing against abortion. The first premise is scientific, the second is moral, and the third is legal. The scientific premise states that the life of the individual member of every animal species begins at conception. This maxim was and is taught by all biology textbooks and it has appealed to any new scientific discoveries. In other words, all humans are human, whether embryonic, foetal, infantile, young, mature, old, or dying.
If we consider the nature of the unborn we notice that the foetus has three characteristics of being alive: Growth, metabolising food for energy, and reacting to stimuli. The DNA of the foetus is distinctly human and also different from its human parents. The Law of Biogenesis states that each living thing reproduces its own kind. Obviously, human parents can only produce human offspring. If someone rejects this scientific evidence they must explain two things. They must say what the unborn entity actually is, and then they must explain how two human beings can create a separate being that is not human.
The second is the moral premise which states that all humans have the right to life because all humans are human. It is a conclusion from the most obvious of all moral rules, the Golden Rule of justice, or equality: “Do unto others what you want done unto you.” If you would not want to be killed, do not kill. All humans have the human essence and, therefore, are essentially equal regardless of their stage of life. It is this premise which spells out the dignity of the human person.
The concept of human dignity is an ever valid concept because it is related with the main subject of history who is the human person himself. The English term dignity denotes “an excellence deserving esteem or respect.” It is commonly thought that there is a dignity proper to the human person as such. Such a dignity would spring from the excellence of his very personhood, and would make all people worthy of a particular regard not due to other creatures.
In the Christian tradition, the view that human life is special is often related to the idea that mankind is created in the image of God. The Old Testament provides us with the most definitive texts about the image of God in humankind. The Book of Genesis twice tells the story of the creation of the human person. According to the first version: And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth” (Gen.1:26-27).
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. In this passage it is stated that man is created in the image of God and as a consequence, man stands above the animals. In fact human dignity is both part of the Christian vision itself and widely supported for a variety of reasons around the world as the basis for just and humane societies. Therefore, human beings and human life deserves a higher respect from everyone and this is what invites us to be pro-life every day.
The third is the legal premise which states that the law must protect the most basic human rights. If all humans are human, and if all humans have a right to life, and if the law must protect human rights, then the law must protect the right to life of all humans in whichever condition, stage or state. The subject of human rights has been studied and perpetuated over time. In fact Pope Paul VI, in his letter on evangelisation said that “For a Christian, human rights are not optional; they are a constituent part of the gospel.”
The above premises weigh on our conscience as a humane society to suggest prolife strategies that uphold the dignity and integrity of both the mother and the unborn child.
The proponents of abortion have and will always forward dishonest and controversial reasons to argue for abortion just for the sake of it. They will often say: It’s a woman’s choice or that the birth of a child will interfere with a woman’s education or career development or that the foetus is just a drop of tissue or clump of cells. Others will claim that the child will be disabled or that the mother is a drug addict and there are going to be unwanted children if we don’t have abortions. Others suggest that the baby will be born in an abusive environment or in poverty or that the woman was raped and that the health of the mother is in danger. Others also claim that the baby is not a human person or that it doesn’t have the value that a born person has! Despite all these amusing explanations my question still is: What is so fancy about abortion?
The writer is the Dean of Studies, St. Mbaaga’s Major Seminary, Ggaba.