Put simply, Gary claims to be knowledgable of “the other side,” but he sure isn’t tuned in to his own side, at least on the abortion issue. Indeed, anyone who spends even an hour surveying the relevant literature knows that David Boonin’s A Defense of Abortion is the most sophisticated case against the pro-life position to date. Admittedly, I do not think Boonin succeeds, but one thing he doesn’t do is claim, as Gary does, that he’s not identical to the fetus he once was. Instead, Boonin would argue that although Gary is identical to the embryo he once was—meaning he is the same being now as he was then—it does not follow Gary had the same right to life then as he does now. Being human is nothing special, meaning Gary’s right to life is strictly accidental. He has it because of some acquired characteristic he has now (organized cortical function) that he lacked then. To make sure we get the point, Boonin includes this chilling passage:
On my desk in my office where most of this book was written and revised, there are several pictures of my son, Eli. In one, he is gleefully dancing on the sand along the Gulf of Mexico, the cool ocean breeze wreaking havoc with his wispy hair. In a second, he is tentatively seated in the grass in his grandparents’ backyard, still working to master the feat of sitting up on his own. In a third, he is only a few weeks old, clinging firmly to the arms that are holding him and still wearing the tiny hat for preserving body heat that he wore home from the hospital. Though all of the remarkable changes that these pictures preserve, he remains unmistakably the same little boy. In the top drawer of my desk, I keep another picture of Eli. This picture was taken…24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clearly enough a small head titled back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows the same little boy at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point. (Emphasis added.)Again, I think Boonin’s case is flawed and I've written on that elsewhere (for example, how does he account for human equality if our value is based on accidental properties that may come and go within the course of our lifetimes?), but at least he avoids the elementary error of claiming he began as one kind of thing only to become something else as he matured.
If Gary has not even interacted with the best case on his side of the abortion issue, why should we think he's done his homework understanding ours? Indeed, the shallow claims he makes against our side (for example, confusing parts with wholes, as Bob points out) suggests he hasn't.