Last week, public opinion was focused on the beginning and on the end of life: the former, due to the justification of the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision concerning abortion; the latter, due to the death of the Pole in the hospital in Plymouth. The beginning and end of life is not just a mystery for science and philosophy, it is also a challenge for our moral sensitivity.
During the debates concerning the situation of the Polish patient in Plymouth, he was described as a “vegetable with a diplomatic passport.” I understand that the state of the patient may be the subject of medical conflict. I also understand that the situation may have caused worldview, philosophical and ethical controversies. Yet all of these discussions must be accompanied by basic sensitivity and tact as to what humanity actually is.
The unique value of human life — dignity — revolves around the idea that from the whole world of nature, only human life is capable of sentient cognition and freedom of action. Only humans can consciously learn, read and create science or art. Only humans can make decisions while falling into the drama of good and evil.
Of course, in the first stages of human life, these abilities are not present and only develop later, step by step. And yes, in the final stages of human life, these abilities vanish or become limited.
Does dignity belong only to a human who currently possesses such abilities? No. Every human, at every stage of their life, is distinguished by dignity.
As it was rightly written in the Polish constitutional court’s justification of the recent ruling on eugenic abortion: “Human life is a value at every stage of development.” Therefore, “one cannot arbitrarily limit dignity, which is natural and unquestionable, and, consequently, so is the legal protection of life, either for a fully formed person or from a certain point in time of development of the child in the prenatal phase” or at any other phase.