Thursday, January 24, 2008

The SLED Test

The SLED Test – Four Top Arguments
by Steve Wagner

We all agree that toddlers are valuable human beings with rights. Yet the unborn differ from toddlers in only four ways, and the first letters of each of these differences spell an easy-to-remember acronym, SLED: Size-Level of Development-Environment-Degree of Dependency.

Here's how to use the SLED test with a technique I like to call "trotting out the toddler."

· The unborn is smaller than the toddler, but toddlers are smaller than adults.
· The unborn is less developed than the toddler, but toddlers are less developed than elementary school kids.
· The unborn is in a different location than the toddler, but toddlers can change environments without changing their value.
· Finally, the unborn is more dependent than a toddler, but toddlers are more dependent than adolescents (even if some parents would deny this). And many other born people depend on medications, caregivers, and spacesuits to sustain their lives. They are more dependent than those who don't need these things.

So, there are only four ways the unborn differ from toddlers, but many toddlers and other born humans differ in exactly the same ways. So how can we justify killing the unborn on these grounds, when we protect born humans who have the same deficiencies?

The SLED Test Meets the Real World Anyone who has talked with an abortion advocate knows that the dynamics of real conversation many times make it impossible to give a four-step argument like the SLED Test. Sometimes people have a short attention span or want to focus on just one of these points. Even still, items from the SLED test come up frequently in any conversation on abortion. All you have to do is keep watch for them, then respond with a response from the SLED Test.

Here are the SLED concerns I hear repeated most frequently on campus, followed by my most favored response(s). Learn these and you'll be in good shape!

Size: "How Can Something So Small Be a Person? It Looks Like a Clump of Cells."

"Why should we believe that microscopic human beings aren't persons? Are you saying those who are larger have the right to determine whether those who are smaller deserve to exist? Doesn't that sound like discrimination? Would that be called sizism? And to disqualify someone because their body is undeveloped sounds mean. How is your statement different from saying to a disabled person that he doesn't count because of how his body looks and works? Should we call that developmentism, discrimination against someone for the body she's developed? Think of a two-year-old: Isn't she smaller than the rest of us? But she has equal value to adults in spite of her small stature. If she's valuable, size is irrelevant to value, right? Isn't the embryo valuable too?"

Level of Development: "The Unborn Can't Think or Feel Pain or Know That It Exists."

"Well, in the earliest stages at least, I agree. There's a debate about when we develop these abilities, but the embryo can't do any of these things. But is our value really based on our abilities? After all, even adults differ in how well they think or how sensitive they are to pain or how self-aware they are. How can you value all of these people the same even though some of them can't think well? And some children, like Gabby Gingras,can't feel pain at all. Are they disqualified? Some severely disabled people aren't self-aware. People in a reversible coma aren't thinking, feeling pain, and they definitely aren't aware of themselves. In order to be consistent, aren't you going to have to disqualify all of these people with disabilities too? And if not, shouldn't we value the unborn whose also a human being?"

Environment: "It's Not in the World Yet. It Doesn't Even Breathe Air."

"What do you mean by saying the unborn isn't 'in the world'? Surely the unborn is in the world — it's simply hidden from view. It doesn't interact with you and I like a toddler does, but isn't he interacting with his mother in exactly the way someone at his stage of development should? It's interesting that you claim the unborn is not breathing air. Do you mean that he isn't even undergoing oxygen exchange, or respiration? All of us did that from the moment we began to exist as zygotes. But you must think breathing air into the lungs is critical for value. What is it about the unborn's method of respiration or the location of her respiration that diminishes her value? Let me ask you a question. How long can you breathe under water? For about one swallow of water, right? Well, did you know that the unborn is not only surrounded by amniotic fluid, she is breathing it in and out of her lungs? If you can't survive in her world, why do you expect her to survive in yours? Isn't that a bit arbitrary and unfair?"

Degree of Dependency: "The Unborn Is Totally Dependent on Only One Person."

"So let me see if I understand your concern. Are you saying that since the unborn can't survive without the mother, that it's dependent in a different way than a toddler, who can survive with any caretaker? So, being dependent on only one person is what disqualifies the unborn? Imagine that you are the last person to leave a swimming pool area and you know everyone else has left and are miles away. As you're closing the gate, you hear a splash in the pool as an infant falls into the pool. Evidently, her parents forgot her and left her at the pool. How are you going to respond? You would save that infant, right? But why? She's dependent on only one person – You. Isn't it the case that human beings are valuable even if they're dependent on only one person? If we don't disqualify the infant that's totally dependent on only one person, why disqualify the unborn? Dependency is irrelevant to value…and doesn't dependency usually signal that we have an obligation to the dependent person, not a right to terminate them?"

_______________________

Steve Wagner is a bio-ethics speaker for Stand to Reason and the author of a new book called "Common Ground Without Compromise - 25 Questions to Create Dialogue on Abortion." In addition to making the pro-life case to those who disagree, Steve specializes in training college students to engage their campuses in large-scale discussion on abortion. Steve has trained students at more than fifteen universities, including the college students at the Focus on the Family Institute. For help with talking for more than 10 seconds about your pro-life convictions, visit Stand to Reason at www.str.org.

5 comments:

pastorbrianculver said...

At the local college here, someone is posting pictures of a dead naked woman. She had tried to give herself an abortion and she died trying. So what does the special interest group do? They post her picture and say this would not have happened if abortions were legal. It always gets me that people say the woman has the right of choice. Another huge sign on campus is "Pro Choice or No Choice."
There is always a choice. Murder or no murder. We can listen to what God says, or we can listen to Satan.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand you people......for the death penalty and against abortion.........go figure

WayneDawg said...

Thanks for visiting Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Anonymous!

I’ll keep it very simple for you……

I support the death penalty because someone committed a crime so heinous that a lawful jury found that person deserving death. The public will never have to fear this person again as he (the person who committed the crime) will never commit any more crimes.

I am against abortion because the unborn baby never committed any crime that would warrant a ‘doctor’ to rip, suck, tear, or dismantle the baby into pieces so that (the baby) could be delivered prematurely into a jar and disposed of in a furnace.

Thanks for stopping by!

Coram Deo said...

Human life is a continuum from conception through natural death.

Human life isn't more or less valuable at any point on that continuum.

Hannah J said...

Good article. However, the link about Gabby Gingras is defunct. My server couldn't find it.