An embryo rescued after Hurricane Katrina has become a baby. Police used boats to evacuate 1,400 frozen embryos from a hospital that had lost electricity; the first one to become a baby was born Tuesday. Father's reaction: "I thought the only thing you could freeze [and revive] was a crab." Pro-life view: See, embryos are babies. Skeptical view: Which would you put in your boat first—the patients or the embryosLet me first say that I enjoy reading Mr. Saletan’s articles, although I strongly disagree with his methods of determining the value of another human being. This is typical of his approach in presenting the opposing side’s interpretation of any newsworthy item he has posted. What particularly bothers me about this blurb is the irrelevancy of the “Skeptical view.” It attempts to undermine the value of the unborn based on how I feel about them in relation to another life. The fact that I might pull a ten-year-old drowning child into the boat at the cost of a container with 100 or even 1,400 embryos proves, in this line of reasoning, that I do not really believe that the embryos are equal in value to the ten year old boy.
This proves nothing of the sort. How I feel about someone and how my subjective emotions may cause me to react in pressure situations says absolutely nothing about the actual value or nature of a being. It tells us something about me. You may conclude, if you wish, that I am inconsistent in what I espouse and how I live. But if there were two boys drowning, my four-year-old son and a stranger, I assure you that I would rescue my son first. My emotional and biological ties combined with the overwhelming fatherly love I feel for my son would compel me to make certain he was safe. This does not mean that the other boy is less valuable or human than my son. At most, it means that my son is subjectively more important to me.
In determining the value of another life or the nature of it’s being, it simply is not an issue how any of us feel about that life. Are the unborn human beings? How are we to treat the unborn by matter of public policy and law? Those questions are not tied to how any pro-lifer may or may not behave if faced with a life or death decision involving two parties that inspire different levels of affection and loyalty. Those questions are moral questions about the nature of human life and our responsibilities as a society to that life. The other is simply a matter of admitting that we humans are inconsistent in our behavior. So what?