Tag Archives: level of development

L is for Level of Development – The Case for Life

The Case for Life: Level of Development

Sean Martin

[18 March 2015]

The L in the SLED acronym stands for level of development. Many abortion advocates dismiss unborn children, particularly during the first trimester, as a mass of cells or a blob of tissue. This incredibly imprecise reasoning suggests that there is no moral difference between an embryo or fetus and a tumor or cyst, because of the baby’s level of development.

Every one of us began as a couple of cells that naturally developed into the complex bodies we now have. For thousands of years, this process was a mystery. We now know, thanks to the rapidly advancing science of embryology, that development actually begins at conception (T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Medical Embryology, 10th edition) and progresses very rapidly. By implantation (5-8 days) the embryo has gone from two cells to several hundred! By about three weeks, the heart is beating. By seven weeks, facial features, fingers and other details are visible.

Clearly, even a tiny embryo is biologically different from a cyst or a tumor. So the question for the abortion advocate is, at what point is a baby developed “enough” to have the right not to be killed? Some argue that because embryos are not self-aware or cannot “think,” they are not persons. Yet people with certain disabilities or brain injuries also may not “think” in the way that most of us do, but few believe that is a reason to end someone’s life. Newborn babies aren’t as self-aware as two-year-olds, and six-year-olds are not as self-aware as adults. Where do we draw the line?

Development

In reality, we all develop differently, with different abilities and shortcomings. If we allow those in power to determine the threshold of ability that gives us a right to life, we will head down a dark path that has been repeated throughout history and never ends well. We must cherish each life—however it develops—as a gift from the Creator.

Does Human Personhood Depend on Level of Development?

Does Human Personhood Depend on Level of Development?

The unborn is dependent upon the mother’s body for nutrition and a proper environment. It’s hard to see, though, how depending upon another person disqualifies you from being a person. Newborns and toddlers still depend upon their parents to provide nutrition and a safe environment. Indeed, some third-world countries require children to be breast fed because formula is not available. Can a mother kill her newborn son because he depends on her body for nutrition? Or, imagine you alone witnessed a toddler fall into a swimming pool. Would you be justified in declaring him not valuable simply because he depended on you for his survival? Of course not! Since the unborn depends on his mother in the same way, it’s not reasonable to disqualify his value either.

Video courtesy of Focus on the Family.

Written content courtesy of Stand to Reason.

Does Human Personhood Depend on Size

The SLED Test is a simple argument against abortion.

Size:

The unborn is clearly smaller than a born human. It’s hard to reason how a difference in size, though, disqualifies someone from being a person. A four year-old is smaller than a fourteen year-old. Can we kill her because she’s not as big as a teenager? No, because a human being’s value is not based on their size. She’s still equally a person even though she differs in that characteristic. In the same way, the unborn is smaller than a four year-old. If we can’t kill the four-year old because she’s smaller, then we can’t kill the unborn because she’s smaller either.

Level of development:

The unborn is also less developed than a born human being. How does this fact, though, disqualify the unborn from personhood? A four year-old girl can’t bear children because her reproductive system is less developed than a fourteen year-old girl. That doesn’t disqualify her from personhood. She is still as equally valuable as a child-bearing teen. The unborn is also less developed than the four year-old. Therefore, we can’t disqualify her from personhood for the same reason we can’t disqualify the four year-old. Both are merely less developed than older human beings.

Environment:

The unborn is located in a different environment than a born human. How does your location, though, affect your value? Can changing your environment alter your status as a person? Where you are has no bearing on who you are. An astronaut who spacewalks in orbit is in a radically different environment than a person on the planet. No one could reasonably deny his personhood simply because he’s in a different location. Scuba divers who swim under water and spelunkers who crawl through caves are equally as valuable as humans who ride in hot-air balloons. If changing your environment can’t change your fundamental status, then being inside or outside a uterus can’t be relevant either. How could a 7-inch journey through the birth canal magically transform a value-less human into a valuable person? Nothing has changed except their location.

Degree of dependency:

The unborn is dependent upon the mother’s body for nutrition and a proper environment. It’s hard to see, though, how depending upon another person disqualifies you from being a person. Newborns and toddlers still depend upon their parents to provide nutrition and a safe environment. Indeed, some third-world countries require children to be breast fed because formula is not available. Can a mother kill her newborn son because he depends on her body for nutrition? Or, imagine you alone witnessed a toddler fall into a swimming pool. Would you be justified in declaring him not valuable simply because he depended on you for his survival? Of course not! Since the unborn depends on his mother in the same way, it’s not reasonable to disqualify his value either.