According to about half a dozen popular blogs (and another few dozen not so popular ones), a man named Patrick Tomlinson has destroyed the anti-abortion argument. Done for. Anyone who was against abortion no longer has a leg to stand on, it seems.
You see, Mr. Tomlinson has concocted a scenario so perfect that no sane person can maintain their pro-life stance in the face of it. He has silenced all protest. He has squashed all dissent. He has–
Okay, you know what, I can’t keep up the sarcasm this long. Who do I look like, Matt Walsh?
Mr. Tomlinson’s scenario goes like this: Imagine you are in a fertility clinic with a deadly fire raging. You hear crying, open a door, and there in the room is a 5 year old child in one corner, and in the other corner a shelf holding 1,000 viable human embryos. You can only save one – which do you save?
Supposedly, this scenario defeats anyone who claims that life begins at conception, because if you really believe that, then you believe that those 1,000 embryos are just as much human beings as the child, so you must opt for saving them rather than the child, because after all, wouldn’t it be better to save 1,000 lives than one life? But if you make that choice, you’re dooming a 5 year old child to death by fire, and what kind of monster would do such a thing?
According to Mr. Tomlinson, whenever he’s posed this question, no one can answer honestly because it betrays the hypocrisy of the pro-life argument.
Really? No one? He’s never posed this argument to any pro-life individual who can give a coherent response that is worth hearing? I find that difficult to believe.
I don’t believe in giving one-sided, “gotcha” style arguments for what I believe, because I don’t think they’re helpful. This is part of the problem I have with Mr. Tomlinson’s scenario, and it’s the problem everyone, including the pro-choice crowd, should have with his scenario. It does nothing to advance the discussion. It doesn’t make an argument. It’s a cheap “win,” if it could even be called that.
Which it can’t, because the scenario is burdened with logical fallacies and dreadful lack of creativity, and worst, it has nothing to do with the debate. See, those of us who are pro-life don’t live under some illusion that the world is devoid of tough choices, nor do we base every ethical decision on the number of lives we can tally up on either side of the equation. Saying we value all life equally doesn’t mean that we disregard all factors when deciding whose life to save in a desperate situation.
We live in a fallen world, and the only promises we have from Jesus about this fallen world are that we will have trouble, and that it will eventually come to an end.. Until then, we have to make hard choices, day in and day out. Contriving a no-win scenario and then being smug because we don’t have a perfect answer for it only proves how tragic this life can be. The only thing it doesn’t do is prove that pro-lifers are hypocrites.
When we say that we believe life begins at conception, we are acknowledging a reality given to us by God in his Word. When we say that we oppose abortion, we are saying that no matter how hard the circumstances, a child’s life is worth more than the difficulties it might pose. Contrived ethical dilemmas posed by science fiction writers via Twitter don’t dissolve such deeply held beliefs.
And if we’re looking for the answer to the truly difficult choices we have to make in this world, the answer is found in the words of Jesus: “Take heart, I have overcome the world.”