Tag Archives: SLED

Up for Debate

Thank you to all those who came to the debate and who helped make it happen. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, watch it here:

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(For more footage of past uOSFL events, see our Videos page.)

See also a recap of the debate, a few photos and a list of debate decliners, courtesy of ProWomanProLife, as well as another take on the Canadian Physicians for Life Students blog.

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I’m a Person: Inside and Out

by Theresa Stephenson

A couple, friends of my family, are expecting their first child. With excitement, I have been shown ultrasound photos and told about the baby kicking and moving. At one of their first ultrasound appointments, the technician explained that the baby was sleeping. What a human characteristic! How incredible, that while still in the protection of the mother’s womb, a tiny life is able to move, to kick, to sleep, to dream, to listen. Yet despite all of these amazing, miraculous things that an unborn baby is able to do, Canadian law does not outline any restrictions for abortion. Abortion is legal during all nine months of pregnancy for any and every reason.

But, tell me, what is the difference between a sleeping child who lies inside his or her mother and one who lies in his or her mother’s cradling arms? Tell me, what is the difference between a baby who listens to sounds and murmurs of his or her parents’ voices while cocooned inside the womb and one who hears the sweet lullaby of his or her mother while lying in a crib? The difference is that one baby is “inside” and the other is “out”.

However, I would like to make the bold claim that in either case that human life is indeed a person. We have posted arguments that personhood should not be based on 1) size 2) level of development 3) environment and 4) degree dependency . Rights and liberties must be granted for all human beings regardless of the factors outlined above and any infringement of these rights is a heinous injustice.

We at uOttawa Students for Life fight against these violations and work to bring an end to abortion.

S.L.E.D. Part 4: Degree of Dependency

by Garnet

Time for the final installment in the S.L.E.D. Series.  I’ve dealt with the first three common pro-choice arguments, all attempts to dehumanize unborn children based on either size, level of development or environment, and so make abortion excusable.

The last argument has to do with the degree that the fetus is dependent on his/her mother.  Some people say that since the fetus is so dependent on his/her mother to survive, and would not survive on his/her own, the mother has no obligation to keep the fetus alive, and thus may abort it.  The fetus, they say, cannot survive on its own, so it must not have a right to life, since it can only survive as part of the mother.

This argument breaks down in a number of ways.  Unborn children are not the only human beings dependent on another for survival.  A newborn cannot survive without a caregiver.  A diabetic cannot survive without insulin.  A person with a heart condition cannot survive without a pacemaker.  Does this dependency make them less of a person?  Of course not.  Dependency is not a criterion for determining the value of life for born individuals, and it should not be applied to the unborn.

An embryo is very dependent on its mother at the beginning of pregnancy, and gets less dependent as the 40 weeks go by until it is ready to leave the comfort and warmth of the womb and face the cold, harsh reality of this world. The umbilical cord can be cut, but does this end the baby’s dependency on Mother?  No.  From what I understand, a mother’s responsibilities toward that baby grow exponentially after the baby is born.

In addition, humans continue to become less dependent on others as they get older.  Toddlers are less dependent than babies; teenagers are (read: are supposed to be) less dependent on parents than toddlers; adults are less dependent than teenagers.  So the trend of a lessened dependency begins in the womb and continues throughout life long after birth.  Birth, actually, is quite an arbitrary point to say that babies are sufficiently independent to be given rights as persons.  Often at the end of life, elderly people become more and more dependent on others, but this does not take away their right to life.

Essentially the argument to say the unborn have no right to life because of its dependency is age discrimination, and should not be tolerated.

S.L.E.D. Part 3: Environment

by Garnet

I guess I better continue the SLED series if I want to get it done by the end of the term.

When I travel from place to place, or even room to room, does anything about me change?  Or think about yourself: Are you a different person when you enter different surroundings?  For some reason, the idea that environment dictates value gets applied to the unborn.  In fact, it’s quite extreme: on one side of the birth canal, the unborn child has no rights whatsoever (in Canada), but on the other side the child is a person possessing full rights.  So what changed within that child during the birth process?  Not much, even though labour is probably very distressing and traumatic for the baby.

“Oh, but the unborn doesn’t even breathe air, like all humans do”, someone might say.  Even if this were essential for the right to life, it’s not as if the unborn child is not receiving oxygen.  In fact, from the moment of conception, respiration, or air exchange begins to happen.  And as the baby develops, he will start to “breathe” amniotic fluid in and out of his lungs, something that would actually kill us!  If you wouldn’t survive in the unborn baby’s world, how can you expect the unborn baby to survive in yours?

Some babies are born premature or early.  Some are born late.  The moment of birth is such an arbitrary moment in time. Just because you can’t see the unborn, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the right to life.

This argument is another attempt to devalue the life of the unborn child.  Again, we see that it simply makes no sense.

S.L.E.D. Part 2: Level of Development

by Garnet

It’s time for another instalment in the S.L.E.D. Test Series.  For the other articles in the series, click here.

It is often said that unborn babies are less developed than born babies, and for that reason should not be considered persons.  “It’s just a clump of cells,” people say.  Some refuse to use the term “fetus” to refer to an unborn child, preferring “blob of tissue” as a more accurate name.

This is another attempt to dehumanize the unborn, which makes abortion excusable.  If what is inside a pregnant woman is indeed simply a blob of tissue or a lump of cells, as many in the abortion trade would have women believe, then it’s no big deal to just get rid of the problem.  It would be the same as getting rid of a tumour.

How do prolifers address this?   Of course, we need to say that calling the unborn “clump of cells” is a lie. For example, right at the moment of conception, when the sperm implants the egg, that baby has a gender.  This probably sounds obvious, but some people don’t think about that fact.  Five weeks into the pregnancy, the baby’s heart begins to beat.  At this point, some women might not be 100% sure they’re pregnant!  There are so many other facts that show the humanity of an unborn child, but that will have to be another post.

We can grant the objector’s point that a one-month old unborn child is less developed than a nine-month old born child.  But how does this fact affect the personhood of this human life?  For example, a toddler is not as developed as a kindergartener.  Does that mean the kindergartener has more of a right to life than a toddler?  In fact, human beings are on a continuous line of development our entire lives.  But we do not attain more of a right to life as we develop.

The choice of the moment of birth as the defining moment where a child is valued is incredibly arbitrary.  Some babies are born after 38 weeks, some are born after 42 weeks.  Why, all of a sudden, when the baby leaves the uterus his or her mother, are they developed enough for our standards?  There must be another factor.

Stay tuned for the next instalment about Environment.

S.L.E.D. Part 1: Size

by Garnet

The “morality of abortion” debate always centres on one question: “What is the unborn?”  I’ve had discussions with people about abortion, and no matter where we started (hard cases, overpopulation, unwanted/unplanned pregnancies), the discussion always comes to this point.  If the pro-life movement is wrong about the humanity of the unborn child we are all wasting our time.  But if pro-choice people are wrong there are countless children being killed daily.  The question, “What is the unborn” is of paramount importance; it is a matter of life and death.

This four part blog series (over the next while) will deal with four objections to the personhood of the unborn (Size, Level of Development, Environment, Degree of Dependency).  The first argument goes like this:

“The unborn child is smaller than a born child or toddler.  In fact, they are simply blobs of tissue.  Therefore they do not have the right to life.”

The pro-life advocate would respond like this: Size is not a fair criterion for determining value.  Physical size simply has nothing to do with rights.  For example, take a look at this amazing video in which the world’s tallest man meets the world’s smallest man (at the time – in 2007).

Would anyone assert that Bao Xishun, who is 7 feet, 9 inches, has more of a right to life than He PingPing, who is only 2 feet, 5 inches?  After all, Bao Xishun is over 5 feet taller than He PingPing.  This would be quickly condemned as discrimination.  Or consider another example: a toddler is a lot smaller than a grown man or woman.   Are we therefore permitted to dispose of a toddler if it would benefit someone else?  Of course not.  This is a preposterous proposition.  But, from the time of conception, right through childhood, adolescence and beyond, human beings grow in size.  Why did we pick birth as the moment babies are big enough to have the right to life?  It just makes no sense.

Maybe one of the other arguments, Level of Dependency, Environment or Degree of Dependency, will convince you more, so stay tuned.

p.s. The SLED concept comes from Stephen Shwartz’s book The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990).