The protection of human life from the moment of conception and at every stage of its existence is a question of conviction, not convenience.

It should be a principle we embrace always, not because it is convenient at a particular time. Thus, when we are asked if we accept that life can be eliminated when it has just been conceived, our reply cannot be “no, because the people are not yet ready for this step” or “it is not the right moment, especially when we are close to an election”. This is politics of convenience. It is the ‘no’ of a person who looks for what suits him/her, not one who is protecting human life.

The protection of life should be a principle we endorse as humans. When we speak about cherishing life from the first moment of conception, and respecting the dignity of the life that has started, we are not doing so because our faith teaches that life is present from conception, or because the Church tells us so. It is science that teaches this. Even a scan of the baby within the womb shows the gradual development of human life when the baby has not yet been born. If you do not see this, it is because you choose to shut your eyes. It is not the number of cells that determines whether the life is human or not.

Science tells us when human life starts. And our faith helps us recognise God’s image in that life because God created us in his likeness. Life is his gift.

Defending the life of the unborn child means laying the foundations of a culture that respects human life at every moment. It may be vulnerable people who are out in the Mediterranean sea, struggling to remain alive and waiting for help so that they will not disappear beneath the waves; it may be people who are in danger because they live in terrible conditions; it may be someone who is being tempted to take drugs and is being deluded because drugs are presented as a means of recreation and enjoyment without any consequences; it may be people who are old and ill and are afraid that their life is now considered superfluous.

Defending the life of the unborn child means laying the foundations of a culture that respects human life at every moment

As people of principle, we should have zero tolerance towards any threat to life, and we should encourage any action in favour of life – such as safeguarding the environment; donating blood; driving responsibly; taking all precautions during construction so that there will be no victims of negligence; and helping victims of domestic violence so that they can escape an abusive situation where their life is being threatened.

It is precisely when we protect human life from the moment of conception — the very beginning — that we will be laying the foundations of a culture that is in favour of a dignified human life at every moment, right till its natural end.

Let us have the courage of our convictions and cherish life with love. Let us show this love through our efforts to protect the life of all, especially those who are weak, vulnerable and dependent, and through an attitude that is filled with sensitivity and respect towards the dignity of every human being.

✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi 
    Auxiliary Bishop of Malta

This article was first published in The Sunday Times of Malta on 27th February 2022