A video was recently posted to the “Students for Life of America” Facebook page showing how easily pro-abortion arguments fall apart under scrutiny. While the video – a speech by Catholic author Trent Horn – is not itself new, it warrants examination.
Horn speaks about a philosopher who “came up with a great acronym that summarizes the differences between us and the unborn, and our job is to show those differences don’t matter.”
The acronym is SLED – size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependence.
Horn begins with the counter-argument to “size.”
(S) Size – the unborn. “Look, it’s the size of a grain of rice!” How big do you have to be to be a person? And my favorite counter example would be a newborn infant. Some premature babies can fit in the palm of my hand. Does that mean that they’re only 5% of my value because they’re 5% of my size?
He quickly moves on to the second part of the acronym, which is frequently brought up by modern pro-abortion activists:
(L) Level of Development. “[It] can’t think or feel like us.” Why does that matter? There’s a problem whenever someone says “thinking” or “feeling” makes you a person. If they say just being able to feel makes you a person, then the problem is, that means anything that feels is a person. So, if you run over a squirrel on the way to the conference and you keep driving – that’s hit-and-run, buddy. Going to prison. That squirrel definitely felt that. So, feeling pain can’t automatically make you a person.
Well, it’s not just that. You’ve got to be able to think rationally more than an animal can. Well, if that’s your definition of a person or a human being, fetuses, embryos are not persons, but neither is that newborn baby. “Stop talking about toddlers and newborns. They’re not born yet!”
Horn then speaks about the geographical question:
(E) Environment. Say they’re not born, and to that I just simply ask, “Why does that matter?” So what? What you’re doing is you’re just picking a difference and saying, “Ah, because they have that difference, they don’t matter.” Look, throughout the history of the world, here’s what’s always happened – two things. Strong, powerful groups want to oppress a weak, marginal group, so they find a difference between the strong and the weak and say, “Ha! That difference gives us the right to oppress you!” That’s always happened – and something else has always happened. The strong group has always been wrong. Skin color, nationality, sex (male/female) – people always pick these differences, and they’re always wrong. We need to say, “Look, why does being born matter? How does moving from inside the womb to outside the womb change your value?” A change of address does not cause a change of being. Well, because they can’t survive on their own.
Lastly, Horn talks about how much an entity relies on another for survival. During this analysis, Horn makes an excellent analogy regarding the ridiculousness of the “viability” argument.
(D) Degree of Dependency … they can’t survive on their own, so they’re not a person. And I ask, “You’re right. The unborn cannot survive on their own, but why do you have to do that to be a person? Why does that difference matter?”
Someone called my radio show once and said, “I think a fetus isn’t a person because it’s not viable.” I said, “Well, it is viable. The unborn is viable in the womb until at least about 20 weeks, but they’re viable where they can live.” That [would] be like if a Martian teleported us to Mars, and then what would happen? Did anyone see the original “Total Recall?” It wouldn’t be that cartoonish, but we would asphyxiate because the Martian atmosphere doesn’t support life – and the Martian said, “See, the Earthlings? Not persons. They’re not viable.” Well, we are viable on Earth, not Mars. We’re still persons. The unborn are viable in the womb.
So I said to this woman, I said, “Look, let me understand your position. You’re saying the unborn is not a person because they are at their maximum level of helplessness?” There’s a little pause, [and] she says, “Well, it sounds bad when you put it that way.”
So see, what we have to do in our conversations is kind of strip away the euphemisms by gently asking questions and making these comparisons to show the pro-choice worldview doesn’t hold up.