by Stephanie H. To
October is Respect Life month in the United States. It begins a new, year-long cycle of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Respect Life Program. The theme for this year’s Respect Life Program is “Every Life is Worth Living.” What an appropriate theme in light of many current events including the continued release of undercover Planned Parenthood videos, declarations of children as “incompatible with life,” and the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in California. This theme provides us a thought-provoking lens through which to consider the worth of a human life. Indeed, society offers us many other ways to value human life which has manifested itself in current events.
The Value of a Life: A Monetary Value?
In the undercover Center for Medical Progress videos, we see the repulsive way in which aborted fetal body parts are being valued. That one can talk so openly and bluntly about the value of a fetus’ liver and thymus or brain is indicative of a much deeper problem: the value we place on unborn babies.
We see the commodification of the human person: organs and tissues are being bought and sold like cows at a cattle auction. The worth of a human person has been reduced to a dollar amount, subject to mere market forces to define its worth.
Valuation of the human person in monetary terms is not in accord with the inherent dignity of human beings. If, in fact, humans are created by God, imprinted with His image, to be in a unique relationship with Him, then it is God Himself who gives value to human beings. It is that value to which we refer when we speak of the inherent value of a human being. Our bodies, too, bear this image of God for as St. Paul writes “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Bearing the image of God, human beings are priceless; they transcend any ersatz assignation of price.