I remember once when I was a teenager asking my father “What time is it?” He responded by saying, “There are two kinds of people in this world – those who ask what time it is, and those who wear watches.” I could not resist the temptation to respond by saying, “No, the two kinds of people are those who oversimplify the world by breaking it into dichotomies, and those who don’t.” Of course, he didn’t think that was funny. And now I regret saying it because sometimes things do break down into simple dichotomies. One example is support for elective abortion. As complicated as the issue may seem, there are only two types of people in the pro-choice category: science deniers, and opponents of human equality.
The reason we can break pro-choice advocates into this simple dichotomy is because the pro-life position is really predicated on the veracity of two premises contained in a simple syllogism. This syllogism forces the pro-choice advocate into one of two categories by forcing him to attack either the first or the second premise. For those unfamiliar with the syllogism, which has been popularized by the world’s greatest pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf (see www.CaseForLife.com), here it is in all of its brilliant simplicity:
PREMISE 1. It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
PREMISE 2. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
CONCLUSION. Abortion is wrong.
Because it sounds calloused to begin an argument by denying the wrongfulness of killing innocent humans, the pro-choice advocate almost always begins an argument by attacking the second premise. A case in point is Dr. Willie Parker whom I debated one year ago today on the campus of UNC-Wilmington (a video of the debate can be accessed here). Knowing that Parker tried routinely to deny the humanity of the unborn, I led off my opening argument with a number of quotes demonstrating the broad consensus that the unborn is human. Here are some of the quotes I used:
Embryologists Moore and Persaud state, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization.”
Embryologist T. W. Sadler says, “The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the sperm from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
Even Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher wrote in 1933 that, “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge.”
Philosophy professor Peter Singer states, “There is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.”
Philosophy Professor David Boonin adds, “A human fetus, after all, is simply a human being at a very early stage of his or her development.”
And, finally, abortionist Dr. Warren Hern states, “We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by the operator. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
Thus, the decision to attack the second premise always backfires. The simple reason is that there is an absolute consensus among embryologists that life begins at conception. Thus, those who attack the second premise can be safely tucked away into the first category of pro-choice advocate, which is:
THE SCIENCE DENIER
Fortunately, the effort to deny science has been undercut in recent years by the development of ultrasound technology. Thus, the science denier appears increasingly ignorant to all but a small minority of the population that has somehow never seen an image of an unborn human via ultrasound. Even a small child can look at the screen and discern that it is a baby that is tucked away in the womb. It is no “undifferentiated blob” or “mass of tissue.” Such lies require darkness. Technology has shed the light upon them.
Thus, the pro-abortion choice advocate must eventually come to terms with the science and instead attack the first premise. The ways in which he does this are always predictable. In fact, as Stephen Schwarz has pointed out, there are only four ways this is done, which fit neatly into a SLED acronym:
Size. It is permissible to kill the unborn human because it is smaller than the born human.
Level of Development. It is permissible to kill the unborn human because it is less developed than the born human.
Environment. It is permissible to kill the unborn human because it is located inside the womb, whereas the born human is not.
Degree of Dependency. It is permissible to kill the unborn human because it is more dependent on others for survival than the born human.
This is particularly problematic for the pro-choicer who considers himself to be a champion of equality – especially in regard to the “S,” “L,” and “D” portions of the acronym. If he relies on any of these three criteria, he is asserting that either a) smaller humans are of less value than larger ones, b) less developed humans are of less value than more developed ones, or c) more dependent humans are of less value than less dependent ones.
But even the “E” portion of the acronym poses a problem for the self-professed champion of equality. If the location of the fetus in the womb is problematic, then it must be on the basis of a principle of bodily autonomy. But surely you cannot dismember a human body, which is precisely what abortion does, on a theory of bodily autonomy, can you? Not unless the body that is dismembered is somehow less valuable than the one whose autonomy is preserved.
Thus, no matter which part of the acronym they use, those who who attack the first premise of the pro-life syllogism can be safely tucked away into the other category of pro-choice advocate, which is:
THE EQUALITY OPPONANT
My pro-life readers should remember this dichotomy and use it to their advantage the next time they get into a debate with a defender of abortion. Never conceded the moral high ground. Just cut to the chase and ask the pro-choicer which one he is: a) a denier of science, or b) an opponent of human equality.
There simply is no third option.