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Unbelievable but true! The EU Court of Justice recognizes that a fertilized ovum is a developing human. This is what the Court essentially said in a decision ending decades of controversy over the use of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) for commercial purposes. While I personally think it fell short of what I had wanted, it is a step forward in the right direction. The German medical community is the first to laud this decision which appears to be driven not by religion but by common sense in ethics (thank God though that even without admitting it, we can hear the influence of  Europe’s Catholic heritage humming in the background like an old recording coming to life from time to time). No Catholic or religious group had anything to do with this decision which makes it all the more intriguing. 

Furthermore, according to the directive, human biological material deserves to be treated with dignity. Quoting from the article,”The court supported a common sense understanding of an embryo and declared that “any human ovum must, as soon as fertilised, be regarded as a ‘human embryo’ if that fertilisation is such as to commence the process of development of a human being”.” The court quoted the directive: “Although it seeks to promote investment in the field of biotechnology, use of biological material originating from humans must be consistent with regard for fundamental rights and, in particular, the dignity of the person.” (I don’t know if it’s only me but it sounds very John Paul II-ish to me.) He must be really looking after the unborn from up there. 

The article from Mercator continues, “Furthermore, ever since the atrocities of the Nazi era, Europeans, and Germans in particular, have been much more reluctant to trust scientists to do their research in pursuit of a higher social good without a clear and rigorous ethical analysis.As a result, the German establishment welcomed the decision. The president of the German Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, said that the ruling protected life from commercial interests and in any case, scientists can work with ethically uncontroversial adult stem cells. The German Research Minister, Annette Schavan, said that it was clear that “that scientific interests do not come before human life.” ”

This news didn’t come without harsh criticism from scientists involved in embryonic stem cell research. Now they can’t recoup the millions of Euros they have spent because no patents can be derived from any treatments derived from ESC (it’s about time they pay for their crime). In spite of this, what is disturbing and sad for me is the sheer number of “human beings” (that is the term  the European Court used) that have been murdered to date in the name of commercial interests.  

Secularists are always in praise of scientists who can look beyond ethics and morals to advance scientific inquiry. Perhaps they should be given the tour of Auschwitz and Mengele’s work to try and persuade them the way the Germans have.  The court may have also set a sort of jurisprudence for other countries (like our Philippines) that are  still debating if indeed a fertilized ovum is a human being …are you listening President PNoy?