Second Place Winner: Sofia Isabel Castillo
Human Life: A Precious Gift
“We have wonderful news to share.” “We are expecting a baby!” “Congratulations!” “What a blessing!” “When is the baby due?” Excited exclamations and cheers arise when a husband and wife announce the beautiful news that they are pregnant. Babies in the womb are miracles and precious gifts, created and loved by God. However, there are people in our society who claim to be “pro-choice.” Yet, in essence, what are they choosing? They are deliberately choosing to kill an innocent person in the womb. As pro-lifers, we must staunchly proclaim the truth to all peoples: Preborn babies are human beings with value and dignity and deserve both the chance to live and our protection without exception.
First, the preborn are human beings biologically, belonging to the genus and species of Homo sapiens. Their parents are humans; thus, it is only logical that their offspring are humans as well. After all, only human beings procreate other human beings. From the moment of conception, the preborn contain all the genetic material they will ever need. Therefore, babies in the womb are complete persons from the very beginning—from fertilization. They only need time in order to grow larger and prepare to enter the world outside their initial home in the womb. There are specific names for each stage of prenatal human development (zygote, embryo, and fetus) just as there are different names for each stage of postnatal human development (newborn, infant, toddler, child, adolescent, and adult). These terms refer to the age of the human being, however. They do not deny their humanity. No matter the stage in life, whether preborn or born, a person is still a human being.
Second, because they are human beings, preborn babies must be treated with value and dignity. The word value means worth, high quality, merit, and distinction. Similarly, dignity signifies the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed. Hence, humanity, made in the image and likeness of God with a mind and free will and thus being different from the rest of God’s creation, must be treasured and loved in all its phases of growth. People have inherent value. They are not objects to be used, misused, or discarded. As the Catholic Church teaches and St. Mother Teresa often commented, we are made to love and to be loved. If human life is not respected at its earliest phase, then later stages of human life will not be valued either.
Third, all preborn children deserve the chance to live. Whether girl or boy, abled or disabled, whatever the situation, ethnicity, or religion, all babies in the womb should be given the opportunity to be born. In fact, there are many people whom I know and have heard of who were given the chance to live despite their disabilities. Both my godfather and my friend’s younger brother have cerebral palsy; a few children in our community have Down syndrome; and Tony Melendez, the musician who played the guitar with his feet for Pope John Paul II, was born with no arms. Nevertheless, these individuals always seem joyful and are able to inspire others through their infirmities.
Moreover, after learning about the Civil War and reading Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I better understand the importance of respecting human life. Furthermore, having recently studied the Holocaust and World War II along with reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, I have realized the urgent need to always protect human life. Some slaves had a chance to escape, while some Jews, Christians, and others persecuted during the Holocaust hid. On the other hand, through the atrocity of abortion—“the modern-day slavery” and “silent holocaust”—preborn babies have nowhere to escape or hide. These innocent, defenseless children in the womb totally depend on their mothers for protection just as born children rely upon their parents to fulfill their basic human needs. Ultimately, the preborn have no voice to defend themselves, which is why it is essential we stand up for them and protect them, lest their mother’s womb become their tomb.
Finally, preborn children need our protection without exception. As history has proven, not all laws have recognized the importance of safeguarding human life. Slavery and segregation were once legal in the United States. However, laws were finally passed which eradicated these inhumane acts. For example, Dred Scott v. Sandford was reversed by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments which gave freedom and citizenship to slaves, and Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson which had reinforced racial segregation. In 1973, Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and its effect is the killing of over four thousand innocent human lives in the womb each day. Just as in the two instances above, the Supreme Court can overturn Roe v. Wade as well. This can also be done with a Human Life Amendment guaranteeing legal protection to all human life, including the preborn.
As witnesses for human life, we have a responsibility to educate others. Since Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the preborn, we must ask for her intercession to spare the lives of innocent babies in the womb and build a culture of life. Meanwhile, we need to vote for politicians who will make life-affirming laws especially for preborn children. We can also encourage those in the medical field to uphold the value of human life. Whereas some people are “pro-choice” choosing death for preborn babies, it is promising to hear that many doctors are saving the lives of babies by operating on them in utero so that they could survive and be born healthy. Although abortion is currently legal in our society, we as pro-lifers must be strongholds for human life and strive to protect the precious gift of preborn babies who are human beings with value and dignity.