Let me propose a thought experiment that is often used by pro-abortionists such as, Ellen Goodman. I was introduced to it by pro-life apologist, Scott Klusendorf.
Suppose a research lab is on fire and it’s about to collapse. On one side of the room is a new born baby, on the other side is a vial of twelve frozen embryos. You’ve only got time to save one or the other.
Which is it going to be?
Let me tell you what my decision would be, and what I think your decision would be too.
It would be the baby.
Aha! Says Goodman. You see? This proves that you don’t believe that embryos are human after all; if you did, you would have saved the twelve over the one.
Is Goodman right? Not at all.
Choosing to save one human being over another (or others) does not prove that those left behind are not human! All it proves is that our emotions and duties to some human beings are going to be different to others.
If I were in a burning building and had the chance to save either my one year old daughter or a room full of strangers, I’d save my daughter. Does it follow, therefore, that those strangers weren’t human? Obviously not.
Here are three other examples proposed by Ramesh Ponnuru to show the ridiculousness of the dilemma:
If I were in a burning building and in one room was a five-year old child and in another were seven people in comas, who would I rescue?
If I were in a burning building and in one room was a five-year-old child and in another were two older women suffering from advanced cases of Parkinson’s disease, who would I rescue?
If I were in a burning building and in one room were five men and in another were three pregnant women, who would I rescue?
Obviously Ponnuru’s choice to save some while leaving others does not show that he knew, deep down, that those left behind were not human.
Ultimately the analogy is a false one, since, as Scott Klusendorf puts it, “the debate over embryonic stem cell research is not about choosing who we’re going to save—as in the case of the burning lab. It’s about who we’re going to deliberately kill to benefit us. Saving my own kid first is permissible. Shooting those left behind is not, even if it would increase my chances of escape.”