The past week voters in Mississippi rejected a State constitutional amendment, that would have defined a 'person' as beginning at conception. Proponents had hoped that his would eliminate abortion and provide for recognition for pre-natal needs. Opponents felt that the definition was too broad and would infringe on various rights of women, especially abortion and contraception. As always the debate returned to whether or not a fetus is really a human being.
This whole question brings us back to philosophical arguments and the age old question of our very being. For the ancients the concept of a soul was very real. Humans who are capable of logic and intellect possess a human soul, whereas animals, which are at the service of Man, contain an animal soul. This all sounds well and good but yet we continue to debate this philosophy and the modern day medical evidence we have today. Often we hear the comment that a woman may do what she wants with her body. But the physiology of the matter is that the child is very much separate from the mother. The umbilical cord is actually from the fetus, the human child, and not the mother.
The problem is that when we begin to legally define who is a human and who is not, then we can excuse ourselves from the responsibility of caring for those who are "less than human." So we can say that someone with less than a '70' I.Q. is not a human. Or we can counter that once we begin to lack control of our bowels or bladder, then we become less of a human. Now some will say that we will never get to that point, but yet we discuss assisted suicide as if we were a root canal.
Pope John Paul was correct in calling our culture a 'culture of death.' We try to legalize and legitimize our animal-like nature which says that only the strong should survive. The prophets of the Hebrew Scripture challenged the religious and political leaders for neglecting the convenant, and neglecting the needs of the widows, orphans, poor, and the anawim. If we begin to forget about the needy and vulnerable then we begin to weaken our society and break down the morals and ethics that offer us support and integrity.
We are made in the image and likeness of God. It is necessary to return again and again to the basic foundation of our humanity. We have to remember and ponder that sacredness that exists in all people. Otherwise we will vote ourselves out of existence.