A bad argument for abortion rights

So I’ve seen a post floating around to an ad-laden clickbait article that’s just a screenshot of a tweet that “destroys the pro-life side”. Something about the argument seemed pretty off to me, and I think I figured out what.

The argument is as follows: If you were in a room and had to save either a five year old child or a container of a hundred viable embryos, which would you save? Almost everyone (allegedly) chooses the five year old. Therefore you don’t value the unborn as much as the born, so the anti-abortion position can be laid to rest.

To this I propose a parallel argument: You’re in a room with many of your closest loved ones. Friends, parents, spouse, children, siblings, whatever. You have two buttons before you, one that kills all of your loved ones (lets limit the number to ten), another that kills a thousand people in faraway places. (Randomly, but within a pool and distributed such that there’s no lasting geopolitical impact.) If you press neither or otherwise try to subvert, both options die. Which do you press?

Odds are you’re saving your loved ones. Does this mean going on a thousand-person killing spree would be okay? Of course not. It means emotional connections influence decision-making.

(That the situation in the original argument puts you in a room with the five year old and hundred embryos just shows this isn’t some surprising revelation. If the child and embryos were in remote locations, I imagine the scales would tip a bit. If the five year were unknown to anyone (i.e. totally feral) the scales would tip further. If the option were kill an unknown, uncared about five year old or terminate a hundred late-stage very wanted pregnancies, I’m guessing even much of the pro-choice side is saving the pregnancies.)

One response to “A bad argument for abortion rights”

  1. […] question will emerge of whether that should be allowed. But as usual, this most recent flare-up of abortion debates involved a lot of people talking past each other other. I think, though, there is […]


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