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 chickens.

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, consciences, 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 nourishment.

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 same.

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. This anima 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 takes.

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. ...