Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Problems with the The Sled Test and Pro-Life in General

A smart conservative evangelical friend of mine pointed me toward the SLED argument for the pro-life position. Here's how a few websites state the SLED-argument
"SLED: Size, Level of development, Environment, and Degree of dependency.Although it’s true the unborn differs from a born human in these four ways, none of them is a relevant difference."
"Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be."
"The unborn is less developed than a toddler, but toddlers are less developed than teenagers and adults and yet still human. Embryos and fetuses are not as developed as an adult but again what difference should this make?"
So for pro-life people who think along these lines, there are a few points that should be made.

1. Size Matters for some things

The thing about a principle is that once we find an exception, the principle is broken. You can give all the examples in the world of when size doesn't matter, and once I give one where it does, the principle is broken.

So let me  point out that some people can't ride a roller coaster this high, and they don't have the right to be protected from that form of discrimination, the principle is broken. Sometimes size matters, does it matter for a fetus? It's not my job to prove it doesn't. I'm not the one stating that I know exactly when life is worthy.

2. Level of Development Matters for a lot of things

Size is usually unimportant, level of development matters for a lot of things. It matters for whether you can drive a car, whether you can vote, go to prison, whether you can leave your parents, and whether you can drink. Usually we use age for determining these sorts of things, but really that's just because its a proxy for level of development. Nothing magical happens when you turn 18, you're just probably at a certain level of development so the rules on how society treats you change.

18 is a big age for level of development. A lot of rules change about how others can properly treat you. When you become a worthy life somewhere in the womb is another big age for level of development. It ought to be, you're going through several enormous breakthroughs in there. You start feeling, thinking, hearing and for my third trimester daughter right now, kicking... a lot.

As an embryo/fetus is going through these massive changes in level of development, we should expect massive changes in how it ought to be treated.

3. Some abortion is not all abortion

I wish the pro-life people would stop assuming that if they can prove some abortion is wrong, all abortion is wrong. Those 9 months between conception and birth is a gigantic spectrum where a lot is changing. I'm sorry that it's unclear where exactly along the spectrum life becomes worthy, but it is. So stories of baby Rachael who was born at 24 weeks don't prove anything

I agree that a life 5 seconds from birth is worthy. But I disagree that life 5 seconds after conception is worthy, and I think it's unclear 24 months into the pregnancy. Have some humility; be unsure with me.

4. Speaking of baby Rachael; grieving the loss of unworthy life does not mean that life was actually worthy

I got a winning lottery ticket, but before I could cash out it blew away. I'm very upset, but my friend pats me on the back and says, "what's the big deal? It's not like you cashed out yet!"

Lesson: sometimes we're grieved over what we didn't have yet.

A lot of pro-choice people lose their baby, are grieved, but are still pro-choice. Inconsistent? Not at all.

5. There's nothing Christian about being pro-life

That evangelicals have clung to the pro-life position would be astounding if it were held for logical reasons. Virtually all the Evangelicals have miraculously adopted two logically independent beliefs. That's a sign that the belief system is not logical at all, but tribal.

What would your evangelical friends say if you became pro-choice? Like most tribal beliefs, it doesn't mean evangelicals figure out what's true and then reject it to retain membership in their group. It just means that when someone suggests pro-choice they think really hard and long trying to debunk it, and when someone suggests pro-life they're overly generous with the burden of proof. Intellectual discipline is a resource people can exercise more or less of depending on their incentives.

People who point to passages in the bible regarding abortion are out of their minds. Scripture does not talk about abortion, and there's nothing in there from which we can infer when life begins.

And I think that's about it.