The first day of school a little boy whose father owned the local apple farm brought his teacher a gift in a box. Many others had done the same, but his was the largest and last to be opened. It was a game they were playing, that before she opened each gift, she had to try to guess what it was. The boy placed it on her desk and stood waiting for her to open it. All the other little boys and girls were gathering around to see what it was, because children are naturally curious about things, and the little boy had refused to tell anyone what it was. The teacher, who was young in years and to the profession, stood up and noticed the bottom of the box was wet, and a small puddle was forming on her desk. She exclaimed, “Oh Johnny, I think it must be broken!” Johnny said, “Oh no, it can’t be broken.” The teacher dipped her finger in what looked like apple juice, tasted it and asked, “Is it apple juice?” The boy smiled and said, “Nope.” The teacher again dipped her finger in the puddle, tasted it again and asked, “Lemon-ade?” Again the boy smiled and said, “Nope!” Unable to contain his excitement any longer he exclaimed, “It’s a puppy!”
It is so important to know what things are before we take action. The above story is an amusing example of someone taking a simple action, (tasting what she thought was apple juice), and it turns out to have been a poor idea. Hollywood often runs with that kind of theme where aliens, (the kind from another planet, not just south of the border), come to visit earth, and they encounter someone who assumes they are hostile invaders. Inevitably, someone takes a shot at an alien and starts a war, when all along everyone could have been best of friends.
New hunters are reminded to never to pull the trigger unless you know what you are shooting. I know about this first hand, having been shot myself. Swat teams have the same mind-set and can’t just kick in doors and start shooting at anything that moves. Members of sheriff or police departments can’t just start banging away at every bad guy they think they see, not with the valid concern of shooting innocent people, or worse yet, children. I know Hollywood does not portray these kinds of actions very accurately. Most often, in Hollywood shootouts, hundreds of rounds are zipping through the air, the majority of which hit buildings, cars, and windows because everyone is such a lousy shot. Anyone that does get hit is often just an expendable good or bad guy. It is important to know what someone is shooting at before they pull the trigger. With that in mind, it would also be important for someone to ‘know’ what they are aborting in an unwanted pregnancy. If it is just a ‘mass of cell tissue’ or a ‘lump of flesh’, then we have nothing to discuss, but if it is more than that, it would be valuable to know.
I did hear Greg Koukl give this example of a boy walking up behind his mom, who was doing the dishes. The boy was behind her and asked, “Mommy, can I kill this?” 1 Well, what is the first reaction out of the mouth of the mother? She would turn and look, or she would ask, “What is it?” Now, if it was an unwanted household pest like a spider or a cockroach, most of us would give permission. If it was a snake or a bird, then probably not. If it was a dog or a cat, definitely not. If it was the infant from next door, emphatically not!
I don’t know if it was Greg Koukl who came up with the acronym SLED, or if someone else had thought of it first, but it can be a simple tool to make your case for the right to life. SLED stands for:
Level of Development
Degree of Dependency
Let’s take a moment and look at each one. Starting with size and equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is foolishness. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. Are basketball players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? How many of you remember William Perry, aka The Refrigerator, who played for Chicago Bears after being hand-picked by Mike Ditka. In high school, he played at 295 pounds! Those of you over the age of 40 might remember the song by Randy Newman, “Short People”. A song I would play for my girlfriend back then, (she was short). We can laugh at songs like that, especially those of us who are tall, but in all seriousness, height or size has nothing to do with the inherent value of a person.
Level of Development is another consideration for those considering an abortion. Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 16 year old boy more valuable than a 6 year old boy? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, or a newborn to an infant. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 2nd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone. Obviously we can’t, so level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.
What about environment, or location? Does your value increase or decrease depending on where you are located? Do you have more or less value because you are at work, home, in your car? Do you have more value on the left side of your sofa then on the right side of your sofa? How about those in another country? Do those that live in third world countries have less value than those in developed countries? Does the value of an astronaut change if he is orbiting the earth or walking on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, though the birth-canal, to the hands of a waiting physician? Absolutely not. Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are found.
Finally, we have the degree of dependency which again is a point some might argue. If you look at this issue sensibly, then you will see it has nothing to do with the value of a person. How many of you know someone with skills or talents that have allowed them to be less dependent on others, in particular parents, sooner than others. Is the young adult who is pro-active and finds a job right out of high school have greater value than another who has not found a job? As a child grows and matures, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? Do those that collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? Do those working full time have more value than those working part time? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their value less due to the medication they need? Obviously the answer to this is no, and to suggest the value of a person is dependent on their level of dependency is foolish.
After hearing these reasons, someone might respond, “So what? I agree with all this, but you still should not take away a woman’s right to choose.” I would respond, “Choose what?” Think about it, a woman’s right to choose what? Do women have the right to choose to kill an innocent human being? No, they don’t and neither does anyone else, because if size, level of development, environment, and level of dependence does not make a difference in the value of a person, then abortion is the killing of innocent human beings.
Someone might respond, “So you believe even in the case of rape, you would take away a woman’s right to choose?” Again I would ask, “A right to choose what?” “Because a woman was raped, does that give her the right to kill an innocent human being?” Ray Comfort asked, “Which is worse, rape or murder?” 2
Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 3
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)
Psalm 127:3-4 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. (NIV)
1. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion-Only One Question”. Ambassador Basic Curriculum. Signal Hill, 2003. Lecture.
2. Comfort, Ray. “180 Movie” YouTube Video. YouTube. 21 September. 2011. Web. 25 July. 2013.
3. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion: One Key Issue” str.org. Stand To Reason, 30 March. 2013. Web. 20 July. 2013.