Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A simple case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf

Are you able to make a basic case for the pro-life view?

Here’s a short 38-lecture by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute.

This is a long treatment that talks about the challenge of moral relativism and the case for the pro-life view. He does show a clip of abortion in the video to the audience.

There’s also a 35-minute audio recording of Scott on the LTI web site. (H/T Apologetics 315) You can put that on your podcast player and listen to it. Listen to it a lot and soon you’ll sound like Scott.

Scott also has an article posted on the LTI web site for those who don’t have time for the video or the audio.

In the article makes three points:

  1. Clarify the issue
  2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy
  3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest

Here’s the second point:

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 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. Six-week old infants lack 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 human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication 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, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

That’s the core of the basic pro-life case right there. There’s also a good interview of Mr. Klusendorf that I blogged about.

Advanced Objections

You can learn more by reading basic pro-life apologetics… from Francis Beckwith. You might recognize Frank Beckwith as the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

Here’s an excerpt from Part II:

Excerpt:

A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, [1] there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.

[...]Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. [3] To argue for abortion on demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one’s spouse or child needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not establish a general rule.

[...]Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the relieving of the woman’s mental suffering against the right-to-life of an innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard Nathanson has written, “The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from the sexual act, but not morally from it.” [5]Hence, this argument, like the ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the unborn are not fully human.

Scott Klusendorf wrote the The Case for Life, which is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view. For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

I found a very polished hour-long talk by Scott on Youtube. That talk was delivered to students and faculty at Furman University.

Finally, if you want to see Scott Klusendorf in a debate with a former ACLU executive, you can see it right here.

My friend Papa Georgio sent me a post that features THREE talks by Scott Klusendorf. (H/T Religio-Political Talk)

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A basic case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf

Are you able to make a basic case for the pro-life view?

Here’s a short 35-lecture by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute.

This is a long treatment that talks about the challenge of moral relativism and the case for the pro-life view. He does show a clip of abortion in the video to the audience.

There’s also a 35-minute audio recording of Scott on the LTI web site. (H/T Apologetics 315) You can put that on your podcast player and listen to it. Listen to it a lot and soon you’ll sound like Scott.

Scott also has an article posted on the LTI web site for those who don’t have time for the video or the audio.

In the article makes three points:

  1. Clarify the issue
  2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy
  3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest

Here’s the second point:

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 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. Six-week old infants lack 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 human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication 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, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

That’s the core of the basic pro-life case right there. There’s also a good interview of Mr. Klusendorf that I blogged about.

Advanced Objections

You can learn more by reading basic pro-life apologetics… from Francis Beckwith. You might recognize Frank Beckwith as the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

Here’s an excerpt from Part II:

Excerpt:

A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, [1] there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.

[...]Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. [3] To argue for abortion on demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one’s spouse or child needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not establish a general rule.

[...]Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the relieving of the woman’s mental suffering against the right-to-life of an innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard Nathanson has written, “The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from the sexual act, but not morally from it.” [5]Hence, this argument, like the ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the unborn are not fully human.

Scott Klusendorf wrote the The Case for Life, which is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view. For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Finally, if you want to see Scott Klusendorf in a debate with a former ACLU executive, you can see it right here.

UPDATE: My friend Papa Georgio sent me a post that features THREE talks by Scott Klusendorf. (H/T Religio-Political Talk)

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scott Klusendorf responds to atheist P.Z. Myers on the Issues, Etc. show

Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute

Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute

About Scott:

Scott Klusendorf travels throughout the United States and Canada training pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views in the public square. He contends that the pro-life message can compete in the marketplace of ideas if properly understood and properly articulated.

[...]Scott has participated in numerous debates at the collegiate level. His debate opponents have included Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU (1991-2008) – Kathyrn Kolbert, an attorney that has argued for abortion rights in a United States Supreme Court case – and Kathy Kneer, President of Planned Parenthood of California.

Scott has debated or lectured to student groups at over 70 colleges and universities, including Stanford, USC, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Loyola Marymount Law School, West Virginia Medical School, MIT, U.S. Air Force Academy, Cal-Tech, and University of North Carolina.

Each year thousands of students at Protestant and Catholic high schools are trained by Scott to make a persuasive case for life as part of their worldview training prior to college. He’s provided that same training to students at Summit Ministries and Focus on the Family Institute.

Scott is the author of The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture, released in March 2009 by Crossway Books. Scott has also published articles on pro-life apologetics in The Christian Research Journal, Clear Thinking, Focus on the FamilyCitizen, and The Conservative Theological Journal.

Chuck Colson, founder and Chairman of the Board of Prison Fellowship, says: “Scott first grabbed my attention when Focus on the Family featured one of his presentations on its national broadcast. I was struck by his ability to communicate truth so clearly and insightfully. I’ve heard many speakers who deliver excellent content, but few who can actually equip people to communicate their pro-life convictions to a secular culture. In fact, I was so impressed with Scott’s talk that I phoned him directly to learn more about his work. After that, I scheduled him as a keynote speaker for our own Breakpoint conference.”

Scott is a graduate of UCLA with honors and holds a Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.

The MP3 file is here.

Topics:

  • Myers: I could imagine a culture where a child doesn’t have the right to life until they are 5-years old
  • Moderator: Myers is an atheist. He believes that standards of conduct are variable depending on what is dominant in a culture. Since cultures  vary by time and place, and none is objectively right or wrong, then a 5-year limit for personhood is as valid as any other standard that might evolve. There is no way to judge between cultures against some objective standard
  • Moderator (to Klusendorf): Myers says that the unborn is a “piece of meat”. It’s not a person until well after birth. Do only atheists believe this?
  • Klusendorf: No others hold them. But what is more interesting is that he just asserts his views, he never argues for them. He says that pro-lifers lie when debating this issue
  • Moderator: (to Myers) What is the unborn?
  • Myers: It’s a piece of tissue that will develop into a human being over time
  • Moderator: (to Myers) What is it 5 minutes before it’s born?
  • Myers: It’s fetus, it’s not a baby
  • Klusendorf: The development stages of a human are all stages of development of the same entity, as even Peter Singer and David Boonin admit
  • Moderator: He made a distinction between before birth and after birth
  • Klusendorf: Yes, and that contradicts what he says later when he says there are no sharp boundaries
  • Klusendorf: Myers is confusing parts with wholes. The skin cells on my hand are part of a larger human being. The embryo is not part of a larger human being, they are a whole human being, directing its own development
  • Klusendorf: Myers also makes the claim that embryos are constructed piece by piece from the outside. But the science of embryology is clear – the embryo develops itself.
  • Moderator (to Myers): Is the unborn a person?
  • Myers: Personhood develops gradually. A newborn baby is not a person. A baby’s brain is still forming so it’s not a person. There is no specific moment when a baby becomes a person. It is culturally determined. Our society says it’s birth. Some people say viability. Either of those are acceptable to me
  • Moderator: (to Myers): So drawing the line between unborn and born is arbitrary?
  • Myers: Yes it is
  • Klusendorf: He is separating human beings into classes: persons and non-persons. This has resulted in injustices, historically speaking. E.g. – with American Indians

(Break until 15:00)

  • Klusendorf: He says that a human being becomes a person when their brain is fully developed, but even teens don’t have fully developed brains
  • Klusendorf: Look at this scientific evidence from PBS about NIH research which shows that brains still developing in teens and it causes them to make poor decisions
  • Klusendorf: If development gives us value, then those with more of it have more of a right to life than those with less
  • Klusendorf: This point was made by Lincoln in his debates about slavery, when he warned his opponent that someone with lighter skin could enslave him
  • Moderator (to Myers): How do you decide these life issues?
  • Myers: We use the notion of “greater good”
  • Moderator (to Myers): that’s a culturally determined notion?
  • Myers: Yes. The greater good here is that we maximize the security and happiness of most people in the society. Women are persons, so we favor their rights.
  • Klusendorf: His response begs the question. He is assuming that the unborn are not human persons. He talks about the need for women’s rights. Are unborn women included in those who have rights?
  • Klusendorf: If cultures decide who is and who is not a person, then he cannot oppose cultures that say that Jews are not persons, or that women are not persons
  • Klusendorf: He admits that he cannot oppose cultures that think that children of age 5 are not persons, and can be killed
  • Moderator (to Myers): You call that kind of society “brutal”, why do you say that?
  • Myers: It’s my personal preference because I like my own kids
  • Moderator (to Klusendorf): Respond to that
  • Klusendorf: He has no argument, just his own opinion. He cannot oppose any society that things that it is OK to traffic, kill, etc. 5-year-olds
  • Klusendorf: He says that he has a personal preference. That is an interesting fact about his psychology, but he has no argument
  • Klusendorf: In an atheistic worldview, human beings at any stage are cosmic accidents
  • Klusendorf: How do we get any kind of intrinsic value and human rights out of an atheist worldview? I don’t see how you can
  • Klusendorf: Even a woman’s absolute right to an abortion is not grounded by atheism
  • Moderator (to Myers): What do you think of the pro-life movement?
  • Myers: I’m a developmental biologist. The pro-life movement is lying to people. An embryo is not a person. “Personhood implies much more than being a piece of meat with the right number of chromosomes in it”. The primary issue in abortion is women’s autonomy. It is entirely the woman’s decision
  • Klusendorf: You have to present arguments to prove that pro-lifers are lying. There are pro-abortion scholars who have arguments, he isn’t one. He only has assertions, opinions and preferences.
  • Klusendorf: What if a woman gets pregnant solely in order to take a drug during pregnancy in order to have a deformed child. Myers has no argument against that

Myers also has no argument against sex-selection abortions. So much for “women’s rights”.

I just want to mention that the Life Training Institute is one of the ministries I recommend to people. They are the only pro-life group I support, because they are apologists all the way. If they’re not debating, they’re training others to debate. If you like Christians who have battlefield experience on the pro-life issue, this is your organization.

You can get Scott’s book on pro-life apologetics here on Amazon.com. It’s the best introductory book on pro-life apologetics out there. And he has another book about making a pro-life case on campus.

UPDATE: P.Z. Myers responds to this post here. Reader discretion is advised.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , ,

Brian Auten interviews pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf on pro-life apologetics

Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics

Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics

Scott Klusendorf is the director of the excellent Life Training Institute, and he’s been interviewed by Brian Auten on Apologetics 315.

Details of the interview:

Today’s interview is with Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute. LTI is the first place to look for excellent resources to get better equipped to defend the pro-life position. Scott talks about defining abortion and its terms, the issue of the debate, the legal history of abortion, defending the pro-life view using science and philosophy, the four pillars of the pro-life argument, answering a litany of objections to the pro-life position, the right and wrong use of emotional appeals, taking on the right tone in the debate, how to get better equipped, and more.

Grab the MP3 file here at Apologetics 315.

The article Scott mentions “How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less” is worth the read, and it’s a good summary of some of the points he makes in the lecture.

If you like this interview, please be sure and buy the best basic book on pro-life apologetics – Scott Klusendorf’s “The Case for Life“.

And there is actually a full transcript, and here’s an excerpt:

BA: Great stuff. Now I want you to go into these pillars if you will of defending the pro-life position with science and philosophy, and in your web site prolifetraining.com one of the things that you provide is sort of a four point acronym, some would say sled S-L-E-D. Can you lay out what those main pillars are and their relevance to the issue?

SK: Well as I mentioned a moment ago, pro-life advocates argue that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a developing human being, and we defend that claim using science and philosophy. We use science to determine what kind of thing the unborn is, and we use philosophy to show that there’s no relevant deference between the embryos we once were and the adults we are today that would justify killing us at that earlier stage of development. Scientifically, as I mentioned just moments ago embryology text books worldwide indicate that from the very beginning you and I were distinct living whole human beings. You can’t see that I’m doing this right now, Brian, but at the moment I’m picking cells off the back of my hand. These cells, which we call somatic cells, contain my entire DNA and coding. But you don’t thing I just committed mass murder by sending a couple hundred of those puppies hurling to their deaths on the floor in front of me. And the reason is, you know that these cells though they contain my DNA and coding are merely part of a larger human being, me. They are not distinct whole living organisms the way that you were when you were an embryo. The way I was when I was an embryo. In other words, there is a difference in kind between each of our bodily cells and the embryonic human beings we once were. That’s what science teaches us; that’s what the science of embryology lays down for us.Philosophically, we argue using that SLED acronym that you mentioned a moment ago that there’s no difference between that embryo we once were and the adult we are today. The adults we are today that justify killing us at that earlier stage of development and as Steven Schwarz points out, the differences between that embryo and the adult that you are today are one of size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. Think of the acronym SLED and you will remember those four differences. Size, yeah you were smaller as an embryo, but since when does body size determine the rights that you have. Shaquille O’Neal, the seven foot two basketball star with the Boston Celtics, is a foot taller than I am, but he doesn’t have a greater right to life simply because he’s bigger.

Level development? Sure, we were less developed as embryos but since when is a matter of principal does that mean we can kill you? Two-year-old girls are less developed than twenty-year-old young women. We don’t think though the two year old girl has less to a right to life simply because she can’t function at the level that the twenty year old can. Level of size, I should say level of development. What about environment; where you are located there is the letter “E” in that SLED acronym. You were once in the womb now you’re out but sense when does were you are determine what you are? When you walk from your living room into the studio to do this interview. You changed location but you didn’t stop being you. When I jump on an airplane and fly from Atlanta to London’s Heathrow airport. I get off the plane I’m in a new location, but I’m the same being as I was when I left Atlanta. If that’s true how does a journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly change me from non-human, non-valuable thing that we can kill? To a valuable human being that we can’t kill. And the answer is, if I wasn’t already human and valuable I’m not going to get there by changing my address. And then finally, degree of dependency—yes we depended on our mother for survival but sense when does dependency on another human being mean we can kill you? Conjoined twins depend on each other for survival and unless one of the twins is killing its partner we don’t go ahead and slit the throat of both twins simply because they can’t live independent of each other. Size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency, think “SLED” those are the only four differences between that embryo you once were and the adult you are today. And the pro-lifer would argue that not one of those four differences justifies killing you at that earlier stage.

You can see Scott in a debate about abortion right here.

And if you like that interview, I have some more things for you to read from Dr. Francis Beckwith.

Learn more by reading

Frank Beckwith is the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

I have a copy of Dr. Beckwith’s previous book “Politically Correct Death”, which I read bit-by-bit on my lunch hours 10 years ago. Excellent stuff.

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A response to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s violinist argument for abortion rights

Amy posted this on the Stand to Reason blog, and it got a ton of comments.

Excerpt:

The “Violinist” argument for keeping abortion legal is an illustration created by Judith Jarvis Thompson for the purpose of clarifying our moral intuitions about abortion by considering a parallel situation. The Violinist story goes like this (see the full, original story here): A woman wakes up to find she’s been attached without her consent to a famous violinist who needs the help of her kidneys for the next nine months in order to live. If the woman detaches herself from him, he will die.

According to Thompson, since it’s clear that the woman ought not be forced by law to remain attached to this man (though he is a person with rights), in the same way, the law ought not force a woman to remain attached to an unborn child who is similarly using her body to live (though he is a person with rights).

In response to this bodily rights argument, Stephen Wagner, Josh Brahm, and Timothy Brahm (along with others—see acknowledgments) have developed a new illustration that more closely parallels the situation of a pregnant woman (including those who are pregnant by rape), which they call “The Cabin in the Blizzard.” From Stephen Wagner’s paper, “De Facto Guardian and Abortion”:

Imagine that a woman named Mary wakes up in a strange cabin. Having gone to sleep in her suburban home the night before, she starts to scream frantically. She goes to the window and sees snow piled high. It appears she is snowed in. On the desk by the window, she finds a note that says,

“You will be here for six weeks.
You are safe, and your child is, too.
There is plenty of food and water.”

Since she just gave birth a week ago, she instinctively begins tearing through each room of the cabin looking for her infant son. She finds an infant in a second room, but it is not her infant. It is a girl who appears to be about one week old, just like her son. Mary begins to scream.

Pulling herself together, she goes to the kitchen area of the cabin and finds a huge store of food and a ready source of water. The baby begins to cry, and she rightly assesses that the baby is hungry. Mary sees a three-month supply of formula on the counter in the kitchen area.

Now imagine that the police show up at the cabin six weeks later, and Mary emerges from the cabin. After determining she is in good health, albeit a good bit frazzled, one policeman says, “We’ve been investigating this situation for some time. The Behavioral Psychologists from the nearby University of Lake Wobegon are responsible. We’ll bring them to justice. We’re so glad you’re okay. Is there anyone else in the cabin?”

Mary said quietly, “There was.”

“There was?” The police hurry past her to the cabin. They search the cabin and find the infant formula unopened on the counter. They find the infant dead on a bed. The coroner confirms that the infant died from starvation.

We can see that Mary was wrong for not feeding the baby in this situation, regardless of the fact that she did not consent to these demands being placed on her. As Wagner points out, our moral intuition tells us her obligation to feed the child exists even if her only option is to use her own body to breastfeed that child, causing her great discomfort.

Another problem with the violinist argument is that it neglects the fact that the baby is there as a result of the woman’s own decision to have sex without being ready for a baby. In the violinist example, the woman is a helpless victim of some group of music lovers. But in a real pregnancy, the woman had to have made a decision that resulted in the baby being born, (except in the case of rape).

Triablogue explains it thus:

Thompson seems to make a distinction between consent to pregnancy and consent to sex (as Beckwith and others point out). But it seems that pregnancy is the designed result of sex, even though it may not be the desired result. It would seem that our sex organs have the purpose of being ordered towards procreation. Applying this to the violinist then: What if I engaged in an activity, say, spelunking, that regularly created rare kidney diseases in violinists? Say that every time I dropped 50 ft into the cave, a violinist was almost sure to develop the disease that only I had the blood type to correct or fix. If I did so, should I not be hooked up to him, voluntarily or not? Say that there was protection, some kind of spelunking helmet. Say that it was not 100% effective. If my helmet ripped, should I be attached to the violinist? Or say I tried to “pull up” before I hit 50 ft. Unfortunately, it felt so good to decend that I pulled up a little too late and my right foot passed the 50 ft mark. Should I be attached to the violinist? I don’t see why not. Indeed, say that the statistical evidence was that the first two people that ever spelunked together would eventually cause 6 billion violinists to come down with rare kidney diseases, I dare say the Society of Music Lovers, and almost everyone else for that matter, would call for abstaining from spelunking unless you agreed to take care of the violinists until they got better. This seems fatal to Thompson’s argument.

It’s very helpful illustration for dealing with pro-abortion people who admit that unborn children are human persons, but who still think that women should have a right to terminate their pregnancy.

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