Friday, June 06, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Jose C. Mendoza: Life begins at fertilization, not during implantation

The Supreme Court has affirmed that the Reproductive Health law is Constitutional. But the Court has also said that several provisions of the RH law are un-Constitutional because they violate the freedom of speech and freedom of religion clauses of the Constitution. As to the moment when life begins, the Court said that it is a scientific and medical issue that should not be decided without proper hearing and evidence. But the Court allowed each Justice to express personal views on this issue.

Justice Jose C. Mendoza is the ponente (writer) of the Court’s decision on the RH law. He expressed his view that life begins at fertilization, not when the fertilized egg has been implanted on the uterine wall.

“In all, whether it be taken from a plain meaning, or understood under medical parlance, and more importantly, following the intention of the Framers of the Constitution, the undeniable conclusion is that a zygote is a human organism and that the life of a new human being commences at a scientifically well-defined moment of conception, that is, upon fertilization.”

“This theory of implantation as the beginning of life is devoid of any legal or scientific mooring. It does not pertain to the beginning of life but to the viability of the fetus. The fertilized ovum/zygote is not an inanimate object - it is a living human being complete with DNA and 46 chromosomes. Implantation has been conceptualized only for convenience by those who had population control in mind. To adopt it would constitute textual infidelity not only to the RH Law but also to the Constitution.”
(Note: Statements in Supreme Court decisions that do not affect rulings, like personal views, are called obiter dicta.)

Overview of Justice Mendoza’s views:

Plain and legal meaning Webster’s Third New International Dictionary describes conception as the act of becoming pregnant, formation of a viable zygote; the fertilization that results in a new entity capable of developing into a being like its parents.

Black’s Law Dictionary gives legal meaning to the term “conception”as the fecundation of the female ovum by the male spermatozoon resulting in human life capable of survival and maturation under normal conditions.

Continental Steel Manufacturing Corporation v. Hon. Accredited Voluntary Arbitrator Allan S. Montano

Gonzales v. Carhart
Medical parlance Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary defines conception as “the beginning of pregnancy usually taken to be the instant a spermatozoon enters an ovum and forms a viable zygote.” It describes fertilization as “the union of male and female gametes to form a zygote from which the embryo develops.”

The Textbook of Obstetrics (Physiological & Pathological Obstetrics)
Intention of the Framers of the 1987 Constitution Records of the Constitutional Convention also shed light on the intention of the Framers regarding the term “conception”used in Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. From their deliberations, it clearly refers to the moment of “fertilization.” The records reflect the following:

Rev. Rigos: In Section 9, page 3, there is a sentence which reads:

“The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from the moment of conception.”

When is the moment of conception?

Mr. Villegas: As I explained in the sponsorship speech, it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life.

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