Saturday, May 17, 2008

The SLED Argument and Abortion

I first discovered the SLED argument against abortion when I heard Scott Klusendorf speak at a worldview camp one summer. It is an argument to define the humanity that lies within the womb. It speaks nothing of “choice” or women’s rights; it merely appeals to reason and observation. I love it because it is easy to remember and can be employed with ease. Anyways, here it is in its most basic form. Feel free to take it and build off of it even more than what has been done here. If any other arguments come out of this and hit you like a semi, please (please!) share them. We’re talking about human lives here.

Size – Human beings differ greatly when it comes to the size of our bodies. Sometimes our proportions are different, our weights may differ, or one person may simply be taller than another. No matter the difference, however, it is only reasonable to conclude that the difference does not dictate who is a human and who is not. Andre the Giant is much larger than Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t mean that Hillary Clinton is less human or inhuman at all based simply upon the fact that she is the smaller of the two. In the same way, how does the size of a fetus (or human embryo, for that matter) determine whether or not it is indeed a human being? In our early years, we typically grow in huge amounts up until adulthood. When we reach our senior years and our body starts to whither, our size can even decrease by certain amounts. The fact is this: Human beings will always differ when it comes to size, and that size is typically determined by age. Why, then, should size decide who is fit to live?

Level of Development – Many see the fetus and human embryo as underdeveloped organisms; it is obvious to see why. However, should we simply eliminate those with mental disabilities because they are “underdeveloped”? What about children who have been born? A toddler is obviously less developed than a physics professor at MIT, but is that reason to kill the toddler over the professor? What about those who choose not to develop themselves? Should we kill the high school drop-out instead of the college student? Does the embryo or fetus have the choice to develop itself? If the high school drop-out has decided not to develop himself, how should we compare him to the fetus? The answer is obvious: Human life should not be valued according to the level of development. If we are going to kill the fetus, which at the point in time has no say in the matter of development, shouldn’t we also be considering the burden that high school drop-outs pose? Of course not.

Environment – Just because the fetus is in the womb doesn’t mean that it is not human. Since we were all in the womb at one point in time, when did we suddenly become human? Did our trip several inches down the birth canal miraculously make us human? Does “Ye Olde C-Section” also make us human? It would be absurd to think so. An actor that lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills is worth no more than a refugee fleeing from the Janjaweed in Sudan. To believe that a human’s immediate surroundings are the measuring stick for the value of life is implying that our value fluctuates throughout the day depending on where we go. Go ahead and laugh, the argument is freakishly illogical.

Degree of Dependency – Because the fetus inside the womb is dependent upon the mother in order to survive, some say that it is not technically “alive” or “human”. However, some documented cases have shown that children can survive outside the womb earlier in term than some think. Also, let me trot out the toddler again: If a four year-old is dependent upon his mother and father for the roof above his head and three square meals a day, should we kill him if we had the choice between him and an independent college student? The answer is obvious.

This is the SLED argument in a nutshell. In a very logical and concise way, it shows that the life inside the womb is indeed precious and no different in its humanity than anyone else. Please feel free to add any arguments for or against it as the topic being covered is of the highest importance.


Jessica said...

I do believe that is a very good argument. I try not to think so much about abortion because I haven't really educated myself much on it, because I haven't seen it as my problem (that's what it all comes down to). But this makes perfect sense. If I were to suddenly feel like becoming an activist, I would definitely use the SLED argument.

Also, perhaps in another entry you could elaborate on your views in regard to designer babies. I have been reading up on that, and so far I think it ties in with abortion a lot. Why are we throwing away natural children, and then later wanting mentally and physically perfect children born out of a beaker (or whatever they ultimately put the fetus in to grow)?

RonH said...

The problem here seems to be the L - Level of development. Starting with the fertilized egg the embryo doesn't merely develop existing characteristics. It acquires completely new ones! Arms, legs, and most importantly a brain and sentience itself (the very ability to feel and perceive).

Yet some would ascribe rights from fertilization on. Where else does anyone say an insentient thing has rights?