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Person 1 (our hero): You and I equally deserve the right to life. So do all our friends. What do we have in common that makes us equal? Person 2: We can all breathe. Person 1 (our hero): Hm. If that were the right explanation, chickens would deserve the same right to life as us.

Chickens Breathe

Josh Brahm calls this the most undervalued argument in the prolife movement. It’s called the Equal Rights Argument. On all sides of the abortion debate, most people agree that those of us outside the womb have equal value. Ask what we have in common that makes us equal, and listen carefully to the answer.

In this example, the proposed answer is that breathing air is what makes us equal. Many non-human animals such as chickens breathe air too. This is important, because most people agree that humans and chickens are not equal; we should grant more rights to humans than to chickens. (Animal abuse is not okay, but for example, it’s a good idea to test medical products on animals before humans.) So breathing can’t be what makes us equal.

We think what makes us equal is simply that we’re all members of the human species. The human fetus is also a member of the human species, so if we’re correct, then the fetus is a person with the same value as you and me.

First posted

Suggested:
Our hero: Racism, sexism, and homophobia are wrong because they devalue people based on superficial qualities. We’re all members of the human species, so we’re all equally valuable. Fetuses are members of the human species, too.Person 1 (our hero): You and I equally deserve the right to life. So do all our friends. What do we have in common that makes us equal? Person 2: Biologically, we’re all living human beings. Person 1 (our hero): Agreed! Let’s talk about whether a fetus is a living human being too.Person 1 (our hero): You and I equally deserve the right to life. So do all our friends. What do we have in common that makes us equal? Person 2: We all have brains. Person 1 (our hero): Hm. If that were the right explanation, mice would deserve the same right to life as us.Person 1 (our hero): You and I equally deserve the right to life. So do all our friends. What makes us equal? Person 2: We’re all intelligent enough to have a conversation. Person 1 (our hero): Hm. If that’s the right explanation, infants don’t deserve the right to life.
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