LIFE: So what’s the Issue?
The following is taken from Scott Klusendorf’s book: “The Case for Life.”
“Until we answer the question, “What is the unborn?” – There’s no point advancing your case. Gregg Cunningham is correct. For too long the pro-life movement has been shouting conclusions rather than establishing facts. Staying focused on the status of the unborn brings moral clarity to the abortion debate. It allows you to engage friends and critics in conversation so that you do not talk past each other.”
Most people on the street simply assume that the unborn are not human beings.
“Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: “Is the unborn a member of the human family?” If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than pulling a tooth.”
Pro-life advocates defend their case using science and philosophy.
Scientifically, they argue that from the earliest stages of development the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless. Leading embryology textbooks affirm this. For example, Keith L. Moore the T.V.N. Persuade writes, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being.” (Note: zy·gote: a diploid cell resulting from the fusion of two haploid gametes; a fertilized ovul; From the late 19th century: from Greek zugōtos ‘yoked’, from zugoun ‘to yoke’.)
Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. As Stephen Schwarz points out, using the acronym SLED, difference of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be. Take some time and memorize SLED:
Size: Yes, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say the large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean they deserve more right. Size doesn’t equal value.
Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I. But again, why is this relevant? Four-year-old girls are less developed than fourteen-year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Remember, a six-week-old infant lacks the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.
Degree of dependency: If viability makes us valuable human beings, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medications are not valuable, and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.
“In short, pro-life advocates contend that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degree of development, they are nonethe-less equal because they share a common human nature.”
(Pages 27-28: “The Case for Life” by Scott Klusendorf)