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Living the Gospel of Life -- Study Guide

Paragraph Twenty-four



We often hear about the value of a "pluralistic society." There is, in fact, a lot of legitimate pluralism, in the cultural, religious, ethnic, political, and other kinds of differences among people. Life would be quite boring if we were all the same. Yet a "pluralistic society" is, at the same time, a (that is, one) society, and to remain one society, something has to hold it together. There need to be some norms that everyone adheres to; and that's what makes "a society" different from a jungle. One such norm is that everyone's life has to be protected. We should defend legitimate pluralism. We should also recognize that to invoke pluralism and religious liberty to destroy another's life is an intolerable abuse.

When life begins

This paragraph points out that scientific fact -- not religious belief -- indicates when life begins.

Among the many references on this point is the widely used medical textbook The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, Moore, Persaud, Saunders, 1998. It states at page 2 that "The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous .... This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [egg] and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being ...." At page 18 this theme is repeated: "Human development begins at fertilization [emphasis in original] ...."

This scientific evidence has also been presented in courtrooms. Judge Michael J. Noonan ruled as follows in a New Jersey case based on a man's efforts to save his unborn child from being aborted: "…based upon the undisputed medical testimony by arguably the foremost authority in genetics in the world, I found that human life begins at conception; and that Roe vs. Wade permits a legal execution of that human being." (Municipal Court of New Jersey -- Law division, Morris County criminal action docket no. C1771, et seq. State of New Jersey v. Alexander Loce, et als., Defendants, April 29, 1991, Honorable Michael J. Noonan).

Discussion Questions

When Catholic elected officials claim that they cannot impose their pro-life views on the rest of society, what fallacies have they committed?

Further reading

Dr. Jerome Lejeune, The Concentration Can: When Does Human Life Begin? An Eminent Geneticist Testifies (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992).

Click here for more details about the beginning and early development of human life, including photos of the unborn child and the sound of the early heartbeat.

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