Human leftovers

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | May 18, 2005

In a Boston Globe story on frozen embryos, we're asked to feel some sympathy for one John Rizza, who handles the "leftovers from fertility treatments."


But there's more. The Globe informs us:

Some people -- including Rizza -- consider the embryos potential lives.

To justify killing innocent human beings, or treating them as "leftovers," dime-store moralists sometimes dismiss the clear biological evidence of life, and concede only that some people think the embryos are alive. Alternatively, they say that the embryos are potential humans, who reach that potential when their mothers decide to keep them. Let the record show that the Globe has taken another step across the frontier of scientific known-nothingism, with the claim that some people think and embryo is a potential life.

Really? What do the other people think?

Imagine that your lawn looks a bit patchy, so you go to the store, and see a bag of seeds which-- according to the advertising blurb-- some people consider potential blades of grass. Do you buy it? No; of course not.

So tell me why readers are buying what the Globe is peddling here. Better fertilizer, maybe?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2005 12:11 PM ET USA

    Aristotle teaches in his Metaphysics that substances (of which each individual person or things is one) does not admit of degree. According to the pre-Christian pagan and a damn site more learned than the entire Globe, the thing is either a person in some stage of change or it is not and never will/can be.

  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2005 11:16 AM ET USA

    There is no such thing as "potential life." There isn't even a question of "when life begins." Human life can only be transmitted; it cannot be begun. Only a living sperm and living ovum can form a living human being. What begins is the PERSON with a soul that only God can grant. That is why we call it "procreation" rather than "creation."