Intention matters. These are the two words that come to mind when I read the tweets by Patrick S. Tomlinson. He is quite proud of himself for posing a hypothetical question to the pro-life community that has supposedly stumped people for years.
Here it is. You’re in a fertility clinic. Why isn’t important. The fire alarm goes off. You run for the exit. As you run down this hallway, you hear a child screaming from behind a door. You throw open the door and find a five-year-old child crying for help.
They’re in one corner of the room. In the other corner, you spot a frozen container labeled “1000 Viable Human Embryos.” The smoke is rising. You start to choke. You know you can grab one or the other, but not both before you succumb to smoke inhalation and die, saving no one
Do you A) save the child, or B) save the thousand embryos? There is no “C.” “C” means you all die.
He says he has never been able to get a straight answer to his question. He feels that pro-life supporters are finally cornered and have no answer to this pretend scenario he constructed.
He goes on to say,
No one, anywhere, actually believes an embryo is equivalent to a child. That person does not exist. They are lying to you.
They are lying to you to try and evoke an emotional response, a paternal response, using false-equivalency.
No one believes life begins at conception. No one believes embryos are babies, or children. Those who claim to are trying to manipulate you so they can control women.
Let’s go back to my first thought.
If I were in a burning building, and I heard a small child crying, I would grab that child and run. If I knew embryos were within reach, I would grab as many as possible on my way. I would fill my pockets and the child’s pockets as I ran for safety. He says I can’t choose that, but I get to decide what I do when I am in a fictional burning building. My point is, my intentions are good. I mean, even firemen in actual burning buildings have to do their best when deciding who to save and who to leave. The point is, it is tragic for any person to die in a fire.
My second thought is this.
If someone chooses to save the five-year old, that doesn’t in any way mean that the embryo’s lives have no value.
It means a decision had to be made, and sometimes in emergency chaotic situations, we go on our instincts and try our best. Saving the child doesn’t erase the fact that all of the embryos lost in the fire would be an incredible and tragic loss. The child has value, the embryos have value, and I have value.
I would like to ask Patrick my own question:
What if two of those embryos in this burning building were your twins? What if you and your wife struggled with fertility for years, and after using every cent you have, you now have a hope for a family. Your tiny babies are sitting there in danger of being destroyed. That changes things, doesn’t it? The bottom line is that no matter who dies, it is a loss.
Patrick said, “No one believes life begins at conception.” He says if you believe this, you are only trying to control women.
I think Patrick is a little behind the times, because science has established that life begins at conception. For instance, Landrum B. Shettles, M.D., P.h.D. said, “The zygote is human life….there is one fact that no one can deny; Human beings begin at conception.” Sally B Olds Quoted in Eric Pastuszek. Is the Fetus Human? “The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops. It is synonymous with the terms fecundation, impregnation, and fertilization … The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.” I suppose if Patrick doesn’t know this, his hypothetic question makes a little more sense.
The problem is, some people do know life begins at conception, and still don’t care. So asking leading hypothetical questions is not going to help you prove an illogical conclusion. All lives are important, born and preborn. End of story.