Aaron Brake: The Case Against Abortion and For Human Rights

Learn the ironclad, rational and scientific case for the pro-life position and get trained on how YOU can use it to save lives!

Talk #1 The case for pro-life (0:00 – 0:52:40)
Talk #2 How to answer pro-choice objections (53:32 – 1:35:18)
Talk #3 Conversational tactics to persuade others (1:35:18 – 1:58:27)

The case for pro-life

Why talk about abortion?

  • Because the stakes are so high in this debate
  • Because a persuasive, logical defense of the pro-life position is rarely heard
  • Because scripture requires us to do so (Luke 10)

Dealing with distractions

The abortion debate is not about gender politics

  • Arguments do not have gender
  • A pro life woman could just as easily make the same argument I am making
  • Gender is irrelevant when it comes to speaking out against injustice

…there is simply no such thing as the women’s perspective on abortion or the experience of women with abortion. There is no female perspective on this issue any more than there is a male perspective or a brown-eyed person’s perspective.

Christopher Kaczor, The Ethics of Abortion, 9
  • If men are not allowed to address the issue of abortion, Roe V. Wade must be overturned because it was decided by nine male supreme court justices.
  • This debate is not about condemning people.

I am pro-life because it is wrong to kill innocent human beings simply because they are unwanted, in the way, and cannot defend themselves.

Clarifying the Debate: The Central Question

Psychology vs. Moral Complexity

  • It is wrong to kill innocent human beings simply because they are unwanted.

If there is a human problem, we should seek to eliminate the problem, not eliminate the human.

Christopher Kaczor, The Ethics of Abortion, 179

The Central Question: What is the unborn?

If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification is adequate.

Greg Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, 7

Scenario One: Privacy

Pro-Choice Advocate: Abortion is about privacy. It’s a decision made between a woman and her doctor.

Pro-Life Advocate: Is it OK for a woman to kill her two year old as long as she does it in the privacy of her own home?

Pro-Choice Advocate: Well no, that is different.

Pro-Life Advocate: Why is that different?

Pro-Choice Advocate: The two year old is a human-being.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well then, that is the issue isn’t it. What is the unborn? If the unborn is a human being like the two year old, then we are no more justified in killing them in the name of privacy than we are the two year old.

Scenario Two: Economics

Pro-Choice Advocate: Abortion is about economics. There are a lot of women who cannot afford another child.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well, if a woman can not afford her two year old, can she kill him?

Pro-Choice Advocate: Well no, that is different.

Pro-Life Advocate: Why is that different?

Pro-Choice Advocate: The two year old is a human-being.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well then, that is the issue isn’t it. What is the unborn? If the unborn is a human being, we cannot kill the unborn because of economics any more than the two year old.

Scenario Three: Disabilities

Pro-Choice Advocate: Some of these children are handicapped. That is going to put the woman is a difficult situation caring for a handicapped child.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well, if she has a two year old that is handicapped, can she kill the two year old?

Pro-Choice Advocate: Well no, that is different.

Pro-Life Advocate: Why is that different?

Pro-Choice Advocate: The two year old is a human-being.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well then, that is the issue isn’t it. What is the unborn? If we protect a two year old, and the unborn is a human-being, just like the two year old, then we are no more justified in killing them because they are handicapped.

Scenario Four: Unwanted / Abuse

Pro-Choice Advocate: Some of these children are unwanted, and are more likely to be abused.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well, if she has a two year old that is unwanted, can she kill the two year old so that she is not abused as a five year old?

Pro-Choice Advocate: Well no, that is different.

Pro-Life Advocate: Why is that different?

Pro-Choice Advocate: The two year old is a human-being.

Pro-Life Advocate: Well then, that is the issue isn’t it. What is the unborn? If the unborn is a human-being, just like the two year old, you cannot kill them because they are unwanted any more than the two year old.

The Pro-Life Case

  1. It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being
  2. Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being
  3. Therefore, elective abortion is wrong

Most people agree on premise 1. We will revisit it after looking at premise 2.

2) Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being

Defining elective abortion

I define abortion as the intentional killing of a human being. Elective abortions are those that are not medically necessary to save the mothers life. The vast majority of abortions, around 90%, are obtained for socioeconomic reasons.

Some people ask the question “What about if the life of the mother is in danger?” This is most common in the case of ectopic pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies occur when conception has taken place but the embryo implants somewhere such as the Philippian tube rather than traveling down and implanting in the uterine wall, so as the embryo grows the tube will burst and result in internal hemorrhaging for the mother.

Tragically in these cases there is nothing we can do to save the life of the unborn, but if we do not do anything, it is possible the mother may hemorrhage and die. So the question is: What is the greatest morel good we can do in these situations?

Pro Life Advocates agree with the principal it is better to save one life than to loose two. I do not consider these surgeries abortion because the intent is different. The intent is not to directly kill the embryo, but rather to save the life of the mother. So while the death of the unborn is foreseen, it is not intended as it is with elective abortion. The intent is to save the life of the mother.

Elective abortions are those not necessary to save the life of the mother.

Embryology: Science is on Our Side.

Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally is not a “moment”) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.

O’Rahilly and Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd ed., 8

Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, the zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual… The zygote divides many times and becomes progressively transformed into a multicellular human being through cell division, migration, growth, and differentiation.

Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 10th ed., 11

Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).

Moore and Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology & Birth Defects, 6th ed., 2

The formation, maturation and meeting of a male and female sex cell are all preliminary to their actual union into a combined cell, or zygote, which definitely marks the beginning of a new individual.

Dr. B. Patten, Human Embryology, 3rd ed., 43

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species homo sapie a being is a mernber Of a given species is sorneth that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and a human being; and the same is true of the most profoundly and irreparably intellectually disabled human being…

Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed., 85-86

Perhaps the most straightforward relation between you and me on one hand and every human fetus on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, homo sapiens. A human fetus after all is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development.

David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, 20

To summarize, the science of embryology tells us each of us as individuals began to exist at conception as Distinct, Living, Whole human beings. In other words, you did not come from an embryo, you once were an embryo. You began as a human being and will remain so until death.

Distinct

The unborn is genetically distinct from both parents. It is not part of the mother like a kidney or an appendix. It possesses its own unique structural chromosomes and actively directs his or her own internal self development and maturation

Living

The unborn meets the criteria for life. It is a living organism. It is growing, it is metabolizing, and it reacts to stimuli.

Whole

Nothing is added to the unborn after conception such as genetic information or programming. The unborn is whole and complete. All the unborn needs to continue developing is time, nourishment, and a proper environment, just like every other human being.

Construction vs. Development

One of the reasons there is often a disconnect in dialogue between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice advocates has to do with failing to understand the difference between construction and development.

Many people think of an unborn like a car, constructed piece by piece. But the unborn is not constructed externally from the outside, but rather from conception as a whole human being that actively guides and directs its own internal self development.

No one is arguing that the unborn is fully developed, but neither is a newborn for that matter, but the unborn is a whole human being none the less. In other words, you didn’t come from an embryo, you once were an embryo. Much like a Polaroid picture, you were there at that early stage of development, we just couldn’t see you yet. All you needed was time to develop.

The unborn is human. The unborn has human parents and a human genetic signature. The unborn, from conception is a distinct, living, and whole human being. This is what the science of embryology teaches us. That supports the second premise of our argument.

1) It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being

What about the first premise, that it is wrong to kill an innocent human being? It may sound obvious, but some Pro-Choice advocates try to get around this issue by arguing the unborn may be a human being but they are not a human person.

The response to this is what is the difference? What is the difference between a human being and a human person? If you are going to say that there is a group of human beings that we can kill because they don’t qualify as human persons, you better have an answer for that question because that scenario has been played out numerous times throughout history and it never ends well for that group of human beings who are deemed to not count as one of us.

In these situation Pro-Abortion or Pro-Choice advocates may offer up certain qualities, characteristics or properties that they believe disqualify the unborn from being human persons.

  • The unborn doesn’t look human
  • It is too small
  • The unborn isn’t developed enough
  • The unborn is still dependent on the mother for life

All of these differences pointed out by Pro-Choice advocates, differences between the unborn human being you once were and the adult human being you are today can be placed in one of four categories, and not one of these differences is morally relevant or can serve as justification for killing you back then, but not now.

The SLED Test

  • Size
  • Level of Development
  • Environment
  • Degree of Dependency
Size

Does our size determine our value? Men are usually larger than women. Does this mean men are more valuable or posses a greater right to life than women?

A person’s a person no matter how small!

Dr. Seuss “Horton Hears a Who”
Level of Development

Newborns are less developed than toddlers, toddlers are less developed than adolescents, adolescents are less developed than adults. If our value is based on development, is it worse to kill an adult than a newborn? If our value or right to life is based on development, there is nothing to prevent the strong from killing the weak.

In fact isn’t it true that those members of the human community who are less developed and thereby weaker and more defenseless are also those who are more needful and worthy of our protection. Isn’t this why we are horrified by the nature of crimes against children. We realize children need to be protected and not exploited. If children need our protection, why not the unborn even more so.

Environment

It’s true the unborn are inside the mother’s womb, but why is that relevant? Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Each of us changes our location every day. Do we somehow become more or less valuable?, more or less human? How does an eight inch journey down the birth canal change the nature of the unborn from non human to human? There is nothing magical or mysterious about the birthing process that grants us value or right to life. If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location cannot make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency

It’s true the unborn are dependent on their mothers, but why is this relevant? Newborns may be dependent on their mothers as well. Does that mean we can kill them? What about adults that are dependent on insulin or kidney dialysis, are they somehow less human or less valuable because of their dependency? While it is true we may be dependent on others for our survival, we are not dependent on others for our value.

So here’s the question: What is it that makes us valuable? In short, Pro-Life advocates argue that each of us as human beings are equal by nature, not function. In other words, each one of us is valuable simply in light of what we are, human beings who share a common human nature. We are not valuable based on some function we can perform, but if that is the case, then the unborn are included as well as valuable members of the human community since they too share our common human nature.

Opponents of the pro-life view…assert, without justification, the belief that strong and independent humans have basic human rights while small and dependent ones do not. This view is elitist. It violates the principle that once made political liberalism great, a commitment to protect the most vulnerable members of the human community.

Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life, 66

Pro-Life activists on the other hand argue that no human being regardless of size, level of development, environment, or level of dependency, should be excluded from the human community. In other words, our view of humanity is inclusive and wide open to all, especially those who are small, vulnerable, and defenseless.

3) Therefore, elective abortion is wrong

On July 1st 1854, Lincoln wrote this small fragment to address some of the popular arguments put forward by pro slavery choice advocates who argued that whites should have the right to enslave blacks based on superficial qualities and characteristics such as color and intellect. We can learn a lot from Lincoln’s logic in how he demonstrates the bankruptcy of certain pro slavery choice arguments.

You say A is white and B is black. It is color, then: the lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be a slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly?— You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore, have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be a slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.

Lincoln on Slavery

Lincoln’s point is this: if you try to establish human rights, human value, or personhood by appealing to a set of arbitrary degreed properties which carry no moral weight or significance, properties such as color and intellect which none of us share equally, then you end up undermining human rights and value for everyone.

What Pro-Slavery Choice advocates did in the past, Pro-Abortion Choice advocates do today. Only instead of arguing that blacks are non persons based on color and intellect and can therefore be enslaved, Pro-Abortion Choice advocates argue that the unborn are non persons based on size, level of development and dependency and can therefore be killed.

The reasoning of Pro-Abortion Choice Advocates today is just as flawed as that of the Pro-Slavery Choice advocates then. If Lincoln were alive today and were to address the current abortion debate using that same logic, he might say something like this:

You say A is big and B is small. It is size, then: the larger having the right to kill the smaller? Take care. By this rule, you are to be a victim to the first man you meet, with a larger body than your own.

You do not mean size exactly?—You mean human persons are developmentally the superiors of the unborn, and therefore, have the right to kill them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be a victim to the first man you meet, with a development superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to kill the unborn. Very well. And if another can make it his interest, he has the right to kill you.

Lincoln on Slavery adapted for the issue of abortion

In the past, we used to discriminate on the basis of skin color and gender (and still do at times), but now, with elective abortion, we discriminate on the basis of size, level of development, location, and degree of dependency. We’ve simply swapped one form of bigotry for another.

Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life, 66

Why are sexism and racism wrong? Isn’t it because they pick out a surface difference (gender or skin color) and ignore the underlying similarity all of us share? We should treat women and men, African-Americans and Whites, as equal and protect them from discrimination. Why? Because they all have a human nature. But if the unborn also has that same human nature, shouldn’t we protect her as well?

Stephen Wagner, Common Ground and Uncommon Conversations, Justice For All

History provides strong evidence in favor of an inclusive society in which all human beings are respected as persons having dignity as opposed to an exclusive society. Indeed, when considered in light of history it seems apparent that every single time the performance view has been chosen over the endowment view, gross moral mistakes were made….in which one half was permitted to dispose of the other at will…

…men exploiting women, whites selling blacks, the young dispatching the old, the rich utilizing the poor, the healthy overpowering the sickly…Do we really have reason to believe that for the very first time in human history we are justified in treating some human beings as less than fully persons? Or will we be judged by history as just one more episode in the long line of exploitation of the powerful over the weak?

Christopher Kaczor, The Ethics of Abortion, 102

How do we take all of this information so far and sumerize it into a one minute sound bite that clearly and persuasively defends the Pro-Life view?

Why I am Pro-Life?

The reason I am Pro-Life is because the science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. Even though you have grown and developed since that time, your essential nature as a human being has remained the same. In fact, there are only four differences between the adult human being you are today and the unborn human being you were then: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. Not one of these differences is morally relevant or can serve as justification for killing you back then but not today. That’s because your value as a human being is not based on how big you are, how developed you are, or dependency. If that’s the case, none of us are equal in terms of human rights because some of us are bigger, some of us are more or less developed, and some of us are more or less dependent. Rather, each of us as human beings are valuable and share a common right to life simply in light of being what we are, human beings who share a common human nature.

Source: Pro-Life Training: The Case Against Abortion and For Human Rights

Links

Meet Baby Olivia

From a single-celled human to a baby with a beating heart, brainwaves, fingers, and toes, Olivia shows the remarkable beauty of a unique life within the womb.

The Baby Olivia project provides a medically accurate, animated glimpse of human life from the moment of fertilization. The story details her growth as she progresses from one developmental stage to the next, in preparation for her continued life outside of the womb.

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