WHEN LIFE BEGINS
BY Pauly Fongemie
April 17, 2015
This is not going to be a theological exercise, but a common sense approach, using right reason. The question of when life begins is essentially one of the moment of ensoulment. Why?
Because it is the soul, whether the vegetable - and lower animal variants, or the human soul - the soul, anima
in Latin, is the non-material attribute that when joined with a
material entity possessing a particular potential exclusive to its nature, brings life or animation.
Let's look at the carrot. It's earthly origin is a seed, which is
inanimate. It does not move or grow on its own, we do not say that the
carrot seed is alive, although we know it has potency which has to be
activated or fertilized. When
the farmer puts the carrot seed in the ground, and adds nutrients,
particularly, water, we observe something quantitatively, and qualitatively, different - the
seed is no longer an inanimate object, but is a living, growing thing,
a carrot. We could say that it has a vegetable soul now, not one
possessing personality, intellect and free will, for instance, but a
rudimentary life force or vegetation. It is no longer a seed, but a
carrot, it has movement in that it grows, which is its destiny - food
for the sustaining of higher forms of life.
Now we will examine the egg, that of a chicken's egg. When the hen lays
her eggs, they are unfertilized, that is, the nutrients they contain
are present but there is no movement within, no growth, it is not alive. The egg is but
an egg. If the rooster should happen by, it is he that fertilizes the
egg. The eggs we purchase at the supermarket are of the non-fertilized
kind, this is why we call them eggs, they are not chickens, although
they are animal protein, but we do not say we are buying a dozen
If we found a fertilized egg by accident in the dozen, once the shell
is cracked, we would not be looking at the properties of an egg, but a
very young chicken, which would be visible, however early the
stage, for lower animal "ensoulment" had transpired, or what we
normally call fertilization. No longer an egg, but a chicken, a dead
chicken for all practical purposes, but still a chicken, not an egg. If
that young unhatched chicken was left in the roost, warmed by its
mother hen, it would continue to grow until it was ready to be hatched.
The lower animals have souls of a type, an animating attribute that
once fertilization occurs, however it is achieved in the various
species, that gives actual life, not mere potency, to that animal.
Animals do not have intellects and what we know as free will,
and the like, but they do have a kind of soul by virtue that they are
living beings destined to live for a length of time, then die with
basic instincts for survival. And when
they die, the moment occurs when the animal "soul" departs the animal
body. The lower animals are different from carrots, shall we say,
keeping to our analogy, in that if the animal moves from here to there
it remains alive. With the carrot, once it is removed from its natural
habitat, it ceases growing and begins the decaying process and in this
sense we can say its vegetative
"soul" is gone, for this lowest form of animating spirit is the habitat
itself, such is this lowest form of life. The
lower animals are a little more like us, but only a little, for they
are not created in the image and likeness of God, Who creates each and
every person and thing in the universe. Man is special, below the
Angels who have no material bodies, but definitely above the lower
animals, special because he is created in that image and likeness of He Who made him.
Now the human person begins with a tiny seed, the human ovum. Until
that egg is fertilized by action of the male, there is only potency,
but no person in existence. The human egg is of course, human, in that
it is not a carrot or a zebra and could never become either of these,
but is destined only to become a human being. But we do not call the
ovum itself a person, because it is not ensouled - it is not animated as such. The egg moves down the fallopian tubes not by its own
action or will, but by the totality of the functions of the
reproductive organs, much like the digestive system. It has motility,
but not animation itself. That motility is ultimately derived from the
fact that the woman is a person, a body and soul joined together and
she is very much alive - any motility or bodily function within her is
animated or directed because she is ensouled and not dead.
Once the human ovum is
fertilized by the action of the male - this new being has a set of
chromosomes that is specific to him or her, it has growth as a separate
being, although this tiny
tiny human being is dependent on its daily sustenance from his mother,
just as a person who is on the operating table is utterly dependent on
the medical team to maintain life, he requires an IV, for example, for
But we recognize him as an unique, separate individual in his own
right. There is an animating force that keeps him alive in the way we
know aliveness - his heart is functioning, the blood flows through the
body, he breathes and requires food and water at the very least. We do not see the soul per se,
but we know it is there because a living human being is present. Let us
return to the womb, the temporary home or shelter of the tiniest
people, pre-born babies.
When looking at carrots, we can move the soil around the young carrot
and see, however little, that it has roots, a top, and a portion
in between - that which we use for food on the table. But we are able
to grasp its carrot-ness with our unaided eyes, as soon as we notice the
sprout. And we no longer see the inanimate seed but the living carrot.
It is very small, and not much use at that moment for hungry giants,
but we know it is a carrot and getting bigger every day until it
reaches its full potential for nutrition.
Unfortunately, until very recently, that is, this has not been the case
with human beings. The woman may know she has missed her menses, but
she cannot be certain she is with child as yet. So, human beings,
designed to quantify, qualify, categorize using the human senses,
mistakenly presume, that unless one sees the baby move or cry or eat,
or something akin to this, there is no baby, but a "potential" person
as Bill O'Reilly of FOX New so regrettably likes to say about the first trimester. This is
understandable if we leave matters at this base level, and strictly
material in that sense. If you can't see someone, he tends not to
exist, a part of human nature at its worst, but understandable all the
But that tiny unique individual growing within the womb is alive, by
definition as with the lower animals and even vegetables, it has a soul
or it would not be alive. It is interesting that medical terms
pertaining to the developing child in utero focus on embryo and fetus,
two stages of growth and development as if there is not yet a baby, by
implication for the common lay person. This is why pro-abortion
advocates use such terms, to deflect from the humanity of that tiny
actual living human being or person - a human being is a person, by
definition. In fact in medical terms, a fetus simply means an unborn baby, but because the layman does not think in Latin, but in his vernacular language, the term, fetus,
tends to mean something political if not only medical, but below that
of human. This is a tacit understanding but it is there in every
debate. There is no such thing as a human being who is not a person
- either dead or alive, but a person. The Nazis tried to devalue Jewish
lives as sub-human but there is no such category and this is why these
monsters were put on trial at Nuremberg. Yet these same medical Latin
term adherents stop short and overlook the Latin word, anima,
for soul. They use the first two terms to mask their deeds, and
avoid the last to hide as well. They want things both ways and
apparently are getting away with it. Anima is the root word for animation or having life, being
alive where once something was inert potency. When someone is very expressive
in her personality, we sometimes say, "Isn't she animated today!"
meaning more alive than usual in the vivid, noticeable sense, not actual as in being.
is the soul, by very definition. When the body is no longer with any
animation, such as breathing, it is dead or no longer joined to that
animating entity we call the soul. The body is lifeless, still we treat
it with respect for it is a human body with dignity by virtue of its
special creation by God. This is why we don't normally dump bodies in
trash heaps and the like, unless during dire times such as in relentless
war without any surcease. Even then we are aghast at bodies being
buried in mass graves as this adds to the crime of mass murder if that should occur. And
this is why most people are not too upset about hearing of tiny pre-born
babies flushed down special drain pipes. In their minds, on some level,
they no longer are thinking in human terms, that is, of human beings. We
have politicized the most normal of human reality. Only very young
children are still immune.
When I was manning the pro-life booth at various local summer fairs,
inevitably, a young child would let go of her mother's hand, and run up
to the model babies in developing stages, and shriek with delight:
"Look, Momma a baby!" Always.
Depending on the mother's political views there were different
responses. Oh the dear innocence of young children who are closer to
the truth than we more sophisticated adults seem to be!
So the problem at hand seems to me to be not so much the question
when does life begin? - for medicine and science have already told
us, at fertilization or conception [when talking about human beings and
not carrots] - but rather, why do we continue to refuse to accept this in its total
implication, preferring to assign various trimesters as if the person
was more human in progression? If
we followed this to its natural and
most logical conclusion a two-year old child could be considered less
human than his ten-year old sister. No one I know really intends to
mean any such thing, of course. Well almost no one. There are a couple
of so-called experts in science who have espoused the idea that parents
ought to be given the right to kill their born children under the age
of two, if they considered it to their advantage - a post-birth
abortion, if you will. For now they are deemed loons of the worst kind.
For now. You see, evil always moves on the progressive scale, by the
devil's very aim - because it succeeds less challenged this way.
Consider: just a a few years ago no one would have thought that there
would be such a thing as a designer baby and tiny babies in frozen
suspension in some sterile lab, caught in a "custody battle". But we
are here. The impossible seldom is once man forgets that he is not to
substitute himself for God, that he has a moral duty to refrain from
those actions that violate the natural law, even though he has the
physical power and intellect to conceive otherwise and effect these
heinous objectives, no matter the supposed good intentions. As one
commentator put it, "science has outstripped the law." But this is only
because we deliberately sacrificed the law - the natural and Divine law
- in the first place, in order to change the natural order itself. Once
we decided women, and only women, could decide who is a human being and
who isn't, we crossed that once sacred line, and it becomes difficult
to go back because of the fallen nature of man through Original Sin.
Or, Pandora's box writ large and hideous, liberal dreams always become
nightmares in the end because of the very nature of liberalism itself.
Man no longer wants to be bound by right reason aided by grace, which
is the underlying premise of liberalism, whatever ostensible form it
But this is a shibboleth, now, for if man wants to know that it is a
baby in the womb, a tiny person, he can now see him or her with his own
eyes, long before birth. And this is why abortionists who may use ultra
sound as a guide to kill the baby in utero
have the machine turned away from the aborting woman, in the event she
may see a real baby and change her mind. In fact, an abortion provider
stopped doing abortions after she saw an ultra sound.
So, if we do not know, it is because we do not want to know, and that,
is our fault. There are no more plausible excuses for deniability.
And down deep in our souls, if they are not completely dead, we know
it, too. So there are those good men and women, who may not be what we
usually think of as pro-lifers as such, who are beginning to ask the
question of when does life begin, and who merits the protection of law,
the right to life for the innocent?
Every long journey begins with the first step as the adage goes ... let
us not despair but rejoice there are those courageous ones who
challenge the status quo and the elites who have a vested interest in
maintaining it. It will be a protracted conflict, but one human life
matters so much that we ought to be prepared to sacrifice our own lives
if need be, so what is a few name-callings, a little character
assassination from those who ought to know better? Life? It matters.
Let the beginning of When does life begin? proceed. ...
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