‘If I can’t convince someone that abortion is wrong, how on earth am I going to get anywhere with embryo destruction?” That’s a question that looms over the head of even the most committed pro-lifer. How do you convince a non-Catholic that human embryo destruction matters if they have little or no respect for an unborn child at 12 or even 16 weeks? The question becomes even more pertinent when you live in Britain, which has the most liberal regulatory framework around the creation, experimentation and destruction of human embryos in the world.

It’s a tricky one and there’s no quick answer, but the only hope is to begin by reminding ourselves that embryo destruction does indeed matter.

Last month the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that embryos are marital property, not humans with constitutional rights. It is this view of embryos as property, to be used at will for our own ends, which has enabled the deliberate destruction of 2.3 million embryos in the course of IVF treatment in Britain since 1991. This figure does not include all the human embryos who remain in a fridge, suspended in a state between life and death, or those who have died after being experimented on and plundered for their resources.

But how do you persuade non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) from seeing the embryo as property to be used, rather than a human person to be loved?

First, we must start by showing that the human embryo is truly human. The scientific community has long held, and embryology textbooks unanimously and unequivocally state, that at the moment of fertilisation a new unique human being is created, with its own DNA distinct from the mother and father. At the moment of fertilisation, the hair colour, eye colour, height and face shape of this new human being is determined.

Dr Jérôme Lejeune, the father of modern genetics, whose Cause for canonisation was opened in 2007, famously said to American lawmakers that “to accept the fact that after fertilisation has taken place, a new human being has come into being, is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection