Questions to Ask When Discussing Abortion

  • life-3_1327351861What gives humanity objective value, worth, and dignity?
    • Functional or Quality View- Humans have value because they possess specific qualities or functions that make them valuable. It is what we do and what we have that makes us valuable.
    • Substance View- Humans have value because they possess a human nature. It is what we are that makes us valuable.
  • When does life begin?
    • At fertilization, an individual’s DNA is determined at this moment. One’s gender, blood type, hair color, and a host of other qualities are present at this stage. The being is distinct.
    • At fertilization, this being is alive because of the scientific principle that living things come from other living things. The being exhibits irritability (reaction to stimuli), metabolism (converting food to energy), and cellular reproduction (growth). The being is alive.
    • At fertilization, the zygote is a whole being that has everything within itself to move to the next stage of development.  The being is whole.
    • What exists at the fertilization stage has to be of the human species because living things reproduce after their own kind. The being is a human being.
  • Are human beings persons?
    • Size – It is just a small clump of cells.
      • Principle– Size determines whether or not one is a person.
      • Problems– How does how large you are determine if you are a person?
        • Adults are larger than children.
        • Women are smaller than men.
    • Level of development – It does not have a heart, self-consciousness (sentience), the ability to reason (sapience), the ability to feel pain, or some other quality.
      • Principle-Level of development determines whether or not one is a person.
      • Problems– We are always in a different stage of development: embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, teenager, young adult, adult, elder. Because she lacks a fully functioning reproductive system, a two year girl is not as developed as a eighteen year old girl. We are not at our intellectual peak until our mid-forties.
        • Heart- There are people with artificial hearts.
        • Self-conscious- We are more conscious at some times than others (sleep, comatose states, etc.). There are other creatures who are self-aware such as dolphins and chimpanzees.
        • Intelligence- There are some people who are obviously more intelligent than others.
        • The ability to feel pain- You do not have to feel pain to be harmed. There’s a difference between hurt and harm. What about people who can’t feel pain?
    • Environment – It is located in the mother’s body.
      • Principle– The environment determines whether or not one is a person.
      • Problems– Where you are does not determine what you are.
        • When you roll over in bed at night, you don’t stop being you. When you walk into a building, you don’t begin to become valuable. What is the difference between being in the womb and passing eight inches to be outside the womb?
    • Degree of dependency – It is dependent on the mother’s body until the 24th week.
      • Principle– The degree of dependency determines whether or not one is a person.
      • Problems– Are we not always dependent upon others?
        • Conjoined twins are dependent on each other and yet both of them have value. Toddlers are dependent on the mother and yet they have value.
  • Do the arguments for abortion apply to other persons?
    • Trot Out the Toddler (TOTT)- For any argument someone makes justifying abortion, does the argument also apply to a toddler? If it does, they have assumed the baby in the womb is not a person.
    • Examples
      • Claim: The unborn will never have a good life. Question: Can I kill my toddler because it won’t have a good life?
      • Claim: I should be allowed to abort because babies are expensive. Question: Can I kill my toddler because babies are expensive?
      • Claim: The unborn is a product of rape and will always be a source of sadness for the mother. Question: Can I kill my toddler if it makes me feel bad because it is the product of rape?
      • Claim: Abortion is a private, family matter. Question: Can I kill my toddler in the privacy of my home?
      • Claim: The unborn is just a clump of cells. Question: Isn’t the toddler just a bunch of cells?

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