By: Danilo Acquisto It was a weekend afternoon and I was deep in conversation with two of my closest friends when my phone rang. It was my brother who lived in London and who rarely phoned without setting up a time to chat. I answered and he asked if I was at home and able to talk. Naturally I said yes to prompt a further response. I walked into my bedroom and closed the door. He started by saying that his wife had fallen ill the night before from food poisoning and it had gotten so bad that they ended up at the hospital. My heart sank. He went on to explain that a mandatory blood test was required before they could treat her and when the results came back, the food poisoning was the least shocking thing that they discovered. My brother broke down into tears and announced that I was the first person he wanted to call and that he and his wife were… PREGNANT! I was over the moon and by the sound of his joyful crying, so was he. Although it was unexpected, they were going to welcome their first child into the world soon and a new Acquisto would make his/her presence felt – the first cousin in our family to have a child. I left the room after putting the phone down. This is where the story gets interesting and where I found the inspiration to write this article. As I walked out of the room my friends could tell what news I had received by the massive grin on my face, so I blurted out “I’m going to be an uncle,” expecting a cheerful laugh of appreciation. I did get a cheerful expression but I also got confronted with the very stern words, “Uhm… You’re already an uncle.” It got me thinking… Can I really consider myself an uncle even though the fetus is only a few weeks old?! What if they were to lose the child for whatever reason? Would only a successful second or third attempt count? The short answer is that my friend was right. I WAS already an uncle. Now let’s explore why… CCC 2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. In summary, science and religion can agree that life begins at conception – the moment the sperm meets the ovum and the two now become one completely new cell together. This is called a zygote. The sperm cell no longer exists and the egg cell no longer exists. No matter how many nutrients, or how much time you provide the sperm on its own, or the ovum on its own: they will never grow to form a mature member of a species and that’s what makes this new cell so unique. It is why we should do everything in our capacity to give that zygote the best chance of survival – life has begun! CCC 2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being. You see, if we were just talking about a clump of cells in the body that had no potential for further development, this question would never even need to be considered. But because such a unique cell is created, able to bring about maturity of a species, we need to seriously consider its importance. Think about it, whether we’re talking about the elderly, an adult, a teenager, a child, a baby, a fetus or a zygote, we are simply just describing a human being at various stages of his/her existence. What makes one more ‘human’ than the other?! This is not about imposing religious views on anyone, it’s about working alongside science to discover the deep intricacies of human life. In that zygote there now exists human DNA, the potential to form a mature member of a species. “The zygote meets all scientific criteria that define life. It has metabolism characterized by a series of chemical reactions that both build and break down substances to further the zygote’s growth and development. The zygote is responsive to changes occurring within its cell membrane as well as in the external environment. There is purposeful movement of the whole zygote as well as of its internal organelles, specialized structures inside the cell. There is both growth and differentiation as the zygote divides into more cells and these cells specialize to perform critical functions. This development includes the formation of cells that will one day allow the reproduction [pro-creation] of the new life formed at fertilization. It is important to note that this growth and differentiation is wholly directed by the unique DNA that is completely present in the single-celled zygote. The mother provides an environment conducive to this growth but her DNA does not control it. Clearly, from the formation of the first cell at fertilization, the resulting being is alive. The DNA is human DNA, so this life is human life.” (extract from Catholicstand.com) If you find yourself fascinated, here’s a non-religious video on the fertilization process: Alternatively this is a good enough video to share or watch yourself on the Church’s stance on when life begins: It is at this stage that I would like to add the caveat that I by no means would like to enter into the abortion debates in this article. That is for another time. I would simply like to leave you with a new-found understanding that life is beautiful and intricate – exceptionally so. That in fact I should start to take on my role as ‘uncle’ from the minute of finding out that my brother and his wife are pregnant – that regardless of whether the child survives or not, this will forever be my first nephew/niece. It’s a mindset shift for me. Perhaps you’ve never even considered it. Now is the time to do so, especially if you are going to be asked about your thoughts on abortion. Now you can start with the framework of when life begins. Your life is precious. It was precious from conception. Jesus says to us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you…” Jeremiah 1:5. May we all learn to appreciate and protect life and its dignity at all stages of its existence. About Author: Danilo Acquisto I am a 24-year- old busy-body to put it simply. I work on national TV as a television presenter and have 2 radio shows and I love exploring various forms of ministry. Food is definitely my weak point. I live in beautiful Cape Town and have a BA in Law and Sociology. I have a passion for people and digital media (a bit of a contrast, I know). I am ADD and I LOVE it. Look there goes a bunny. Oh and being Catholic was the best gift my parents could have given me. I don’t know how I would have made it through the world (never mind the world of media) without a strong Church Community.