SLEDs and Babies

Posted: January 23, 2013 by Dillon in Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

8 weeks old baby

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe vs Wade. Because of this, the internet and radio stations have been buzzing all week about the issue of abortion. Some topics say that conservatives should stop talking about abortion, some people believe abortion is the largest issue in the nation, and others show complete indifference. What is really surprising, however, are the arguments being used. I realized that not enough Pro-Lifers can actually make a coherent argument supporting their view.The most convincing argument I’ve heard (and the one I personally use) is the S.L.E.D. case. The premise is that there are only 4 factors that separate a fetus from a newborn: size, level of development, environment, and dependency. Once you actually look at these issues, you’ll be able to have a solid argument.

Size: Anyone will grant you that a fetus is smaller than a baby. A common argument is, “how can anything the size of a dot be considered human?” If size were to determine the level of “personhood” someone has, then we’ve got a few problems. Men, in general, are larger than women. Does this mean that men are more of a person than women? Of course not.  Neither is a toddler any less of a person than a basketball player, even though they are of starkly different sizes.  All of them are still people.

Level of Development: A fetus is in a different stage of development, both in a physical and mental sense.  One objection I’ve heard is “a fetus is not self aware and cannot feel pain, so it’s not a human.”  Saying that qualities of “personhood” include being self aware and able to feel pain is absurd.  There is a condition known as congenital analgesia where a person is unable to feel pain.  But that doesn’t make them less of a person! Likewise, anyone in a coma or comatose state is no longer self aware; legally and socially the one in a coma is still a person.  Ok ok, so self awareness and feeling pain aren’t important…but a fetus still isn’t fully developed, so it can’t be a person, right?  Wrong. Stages of development are irrelevant to determining the “personhood” of an individual.  Consider this: if level of development were important, than anyone above a certain IQ should automatically have more rights and priviledges than those with a lower IQ; any child who has gone through puberty is automatically more of a person than a prepubescent child, as their bodies have developed more; and any elderly person should begin to lose rights and priviledges as their motor skills and (potentially) intellectual skills decrease.  See a problem?  I do.  This is called elitism.

Environment: The location of a person is irrelevant to whether or not he/she is a person.  When you walk into the kitchen, are you any more or less of a person than if you were walk into the living room?  Of course not.  I’m not talking about personality changes over time, I’m talking about the fundamental state of “personhood.”  If you are a person in one place, you don’t stop being a person in another.  Conversely, if you are not a person in one location, you don’t suddenly become a person in a different location.  If a fetus located in a womb isn’t a person, at what point does it become a person?  Is there a magical moment in the birth cannal that transforms the “clump of cells” into a human?  I certainly hope not, because I was born through a C-section.  So either I’m not a person, or passage through the birth cannal has nothing to do with it.

Dependency: I was once told, “at best, a fetus is a parasite being completely dependent on the mother’s body.”  Does being dependent decrease your overall level of “personhood”?  And if so, what form of dependency are we talking about?  If it’s financial dependence, then there are a lot of Americans who would not be considered people.  When I make this point, the response I usually get is, “a fetus can’t survive on its own without relying on the mother.”  Survival capability?  Let’s see: there are over 3 million people worldwide with pacemakers and 600,000 more are implanted each year.    We also can’t forget those with Type-1 or serious Type-2 Diabetes who rely on insulin. That is quite a few people who, by nature of their inability to survive without dependency, are no longer people.  Unless, level of dependency really doesn’t affect “personhood.”

Once these four factors have been considered, is there really anything definitive to say that a fetus is not a human? Of course not.  Size, level of development, environment, and dependency are the most common arguments you’ll hear for a Pro-Choice view.  But when you actually apply these arguments, they become self refuting.
English: Newborn infant, 4 hours after birth D...

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Comments
  1. Aaron says:

    Man I am just loving these! Your concise way of writing makes me feel like I am absorbing the thoughts of a collected individual which makes me really take what you are saying to heart! Keep it up can’t wait to read more!

  2. Mike says:

    Great article, Dillion! I am linking to it on my facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TheEmmausRoad. I have always maintained that the only difference between a fetus and a newborn was time and nutrition. You just fleshed out my argument for me. I am looking forward to reading more.

    • Dillon says:

      Thanks, Mike! I honestly believe that abortion is the greatest social injustice humanity has ever performed. If even one person can adopt a pro-life view, I’m overjoyed!

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