Friday, August 26, 2011

Debate over conception settled decades ago, lawmakers told

MANILA, August 27, 2011–Now the cat is out of the bag.
Pro-RH senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor Santiago have finally admitted their position on the crucial issue of conception or “when life begins,” a stance that a pro-life group said has “no constitutional and scientific basis.”
The group Filipinos For Life (F4L), in a press release, noted Cayetano and Santiago’s refusal to acknowledge that life begins at fertilization in the Senate debates over the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
“The matter of when life begins is important as oral contraceptive pills, aside from being carcinogenic, have a mechanism that prevents a fertilized ovum from implanting onto the uterine wall. Medical experts have long concluded that ‘breakthrough ovulation’ can occur while a woman is on the pill, which leaves room for fertilization,” F4L said.
F4L pointed out that the debate had been settled way back in 1986 – when the Constitutional Commission voted 32-8 on the definition of conception, which is at fertilization, or the point at which sperm and egg meet.
During the ConCom deliberations, it was asked: “When is the moment of conception?” Commissioner Bernardo Villegas replied: “…it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life.”
It should be recalled, F4L said, that the definition of conception was changed by American obstetricians and gynecologists in the 1960s to justify the use of the contraceptive pill. This erroneous definition is also suited to justify unethical practices such as in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research, F4L noted.
Abraham Daniel Campo Cruz, M.D., Pharmacology instructor at Far Eastern University, said the confusion over the term “conception” and whether it refers to fertilization or implantation is “not a result of lack of scientific data but of verbal engineering.”
“The implications of redefining conception are seen in the mechanisms of action of contraceptive pills and IUDs (intrauterine devices) and whether they act as abortifacients,” he added.
The physician said that “From the pharmacologic standpoint, hormonal contraceptives (pills and injectables) have multiple mechanisms of action.”
Cruz said it must be emphasized that pregnancy is the state of the mother, not of the unborn.
“Therefore, non-implantation does not negate the status of the fertilized ovum/zygote/embryo as a living human being.”
“The key feature of a human pattern is its organization towards the production of a mature human body. Basic embryology teaches us that the instant of fertilization (the union of the ovum and sperm) is time zero of human development,” he explained further.
“Fertilization results in the formation of a new cell that is distinct from the cells that give rise to it, because the fertilized ovum/zygote/embryo, as a stage in human development, possesses the material composition (genetic and molecular) and behavior (developmental pathway) necessary for its maturity.”
“It is therefore only logical that, if we subscribe to the scientific fact that human development begins at fertilization, the prevention of implantation terminates life. While it may be argued that the prevention of implantation is not the primary mechanism of action of these drugs and devices, fertilization can occur, as evidenced by breakthrough ovulations and contraceptive failures. A contraceptive failure is a human being. Thus, the secondary mechanism of preventing implantation constitutes the abortifacient effect of hormonal contraceptives and IUDs,” Cruz said.
“When science finds a plausible risk, social responsibility must compel us to protect the public from exposure to harm,” he asserted.
F4L said it was unfortunate that RH sponsors are relying on information from foreign and local lobbyists, some of whom are open advocates of abortion.
“Cayetano and Santiago should do their own research and not swallow the RH lobby’s talking points hook, line, and sinker,” the group said.
“For RH proponents to hold that a fertilized egg can be dispensable to convince Filipino women to take taxpayer-funded chemical pills is contrary to the Philippine Constitution. Anything that frustrates life from fertilization until birth is abortive,” F4L stated.
“If RH backers want informed consent, conscientious Filipinos should be informed of the abortive effects of contraceptives such as the pill and even the IUD,” it added. (CBCP for Life)

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