1. What is your name and what is The Fetal Position?
My name is Elijah Thompson. I am a follower of Christ, husband, father, podcaster, writer, videographer/marketer, and aspiring biologist. The fetal position is a bioethics podcast dedicated to defending the right to life of the unborn. Although I am a Christian, my podcast is secular; in that I do not rely on my Christian convictions in order to make the case for life.
2. Is this podcast and what you stand for really worth all this controversy?
Anytime there is a group of human beings being systematically slaughtered, it is a cause worth fighting. There is no doubt in my mind that I am doing good with the podcast/blog.
3. How would summarize the pro-life position?
I’m going to steal straight from Scott Klusendorf for this, because he does a great job summarizing it in a way that is memorizable. He says, “I am pro-life because the science of embryology teaches that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. You weren’t part of another human being (like these skin cells on the back of my hand), you were yourself, a distinct, whole, living member of the human family. And you know what else? There is no essential difference between the embryo you were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then, but not now.” (you can find it here https://www.facebook.com/scott.klusendorf/posts/10154523133854780)
4. Is there scientific evidence for this position?
When there is science to consider, 100% of the science is on the pro-life side. Not all arguments about abortion are exclusively scientific, however. Some rely on philosophy (rights, bodily autonomy, etc). But the science is clear on what the unborn is. The unborn is a living, distinct, human organism from the point of conception forward. If a pro-choice advocate claims that the unborn isn’t human or alive or an organism, they are simply denying basic facts of biology. For this reason, I think all pro-choice advocates ought to argue philosophically, and avoid the science altogether.
5. Much of the pro-life argument is based on the assumption that the fetus is a person in the philosophical sense. Do you have any arguments supporting such a position?
There are a handful of arguments that support the personhood of the unborn child, and I go into much more details on this topic during my podcast. I believe the pro-life position ought to be the default, for a fairly simple reason. When we look at a crowd of people, we recognize that they have certain rights, but why? They differ in so many ways! Sizes, shapes, locations, ages, intelligence levels, etc. What exactly makes all of them equal? Well, it’s because they’re all human beings. The fact that they are human beings means they have a certain set of natural rights. Anyone within the human community ought to have those same rights, and those rights ought to be respected and upheld. Given the biological fact of the unborn’s humanity, we ought to recognize that they too have natural rights; and the most important natural right is the right to life. Without the right to life, we cannot ground any other right. If I have the natural right to life now, as an adult, I had that same right to life as a teenager. And as a child. And as a toddler. And as a newborn. And as a fetus. And as an embryo. I am the same entity today as I was the day after my conception.
6. What about the argument that since a woman is the one that’s pregnant, she has the right to decide what happens over the baby’s life?
This is often understood as the “right to bodily autonomy”. I cover this is great detail in episodes 8 and 9 of the podcast. But in summary, we have to recognize that the unborn child’s right to life is, in fact, in conflict with her mother’s right to bodily autonomy. We cannot ignore this. For this reason, we are in a moral dilemma. Simply ignoring this moral dilemma will make us seem like we don’t care about the woman involved, and obviously we do. But just because we recognize the existence of a moral dilemma doesn’t mean we autonomically assume that the unborn is the person whose rights ought to be violated. We can start by comparing the rights that might be violated, and it seems obvious to me that a woman’s bodily autonomy being temporary violated is morally superior to another person’s right to life being violated. Additionally, we have to ask the question, “does the pregnant woman really have 100% bodily autonomy?” This may seem controversial, but hear me out. Does a woman have the right to choose to take drugs that will disable her unborn son? It would be hard for me to find anyone who would say “yes” to that question. If a pregnant woman does not have the right to mutilate her unborn son, then she does not have 100% bodily autonomy. And if she can’t mutilate her unborn son, why is she allowed to kill him?
7. If we establish that the fetus is a person in the philosophical sense, would killing it constitute murder?
This initially seems like a bit of a tricky question initially, but I think when we examine the definition of murder, the answer is obvious. Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human by another. Is the unborn human? Yes. Is abortion premeditated? Yes. But is abortion unlawful? Well… it depends on where you are and what the laws are. So the answer to the question might be yes, but it might also be no. If abortion is legal, then it is not murder. If abortion is illegal, then abortion is murder. Someone might object and say that there is a moral dimension to murder, and I don’t deny that. However, if we want to be accurate with our language, we should avoid saying that all abortion is murder. Plus, saying that abortion is murder implies that women who’ve had abortions are murderers. And while that may be true, we really have to make sure we tread carefully in this area because we don’t want people to become unnecessarily defensive. And I can think of few things more damning than being called a murderer.
8. http://wkrn.com/2016/01/28/baby-dies-after-mom-accused-of-using-meth-while-pregnant/ (Read article) This is a case that happened last year in my state. Would you say that any court would contradict itself in the sense that an abortion would’ve been perfectly fine but because she used meth while pregnant, it is now considered murder?
This is a hard question for me to answer, because I am unfamiliar with the abortion laws in Tennessee, as well as the circumstances in which this woman found herself when she engaged in the drug abuse that killed her child. In order to determine whether or not Tennessee would be hypocritical, we have to know the laws that we in place at the time of this event, as well as the woman’s situation. Murder has different “degrees” because circumstances play a role in determining whether or not someone is guilty of murder or manslaughter or neglect or whatever. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert on law. From a brief examination, Tennessee’s laws say that a woman must undergo counseling 48 hours before she obtains an abortion. She did not see any counseling, so in that area she is certainly going against state law. However, whether or not she used meth in order to kill her child is not clear from the article. It may have been accidental, which would place it outside of the “premeditated” category, and would therefore fall outside of the definition of murder we discussed in question 7. As you can tell, whether or not this particular case throws up any major flags isn’t something we can easily discern. So far, this question has taken me 3 or 4 times as long as any of the above questions, simply because of the complex nature of the case and the law. So I would exercise caution before diving into any conclusions about this case, or any other similar case.
9. We don’t need religion to argue for this position, but how come Christianity has become almost synonymous with the pro-life position?
I think it’s awesome that Christianity has become synonymous with being pro-life, and I am convinced it is because Christians believe that all human beings are created in the image of God and have a God-given right to life that ought not be violated, except under extreme circumstances. There is also somewhat of a group-think issue here too. If someone grows up surrounded by people who think a certain way, odds are they will also think that way. Obviously this isn’t true all the time, but there are statistical reasons to believe that people who “do life together” will have a similar answers to questions about abortion (and other similar topics). So I believe it to be a combination of a handful of things. Christian teaching of the value of human beings certainly plays a role, but that doesn’t mean all Christians are pro-life because they explicitly accept Christian teaching on the dignity of humanity.
10. How should Christians respond?
Christians ought to respond with love. Obviously science and philosophy and persuasion, but ultimately we ought to respond to abortion with love. Not love for the act of slaughtering millions of children every year, but love to those who have had abortions, who believe abortion to be permissible, and yes… even to those who have performed abortions. This doesn’t mean that we ought to replace truth with love, but we ought to convey the truth with love. Oh and all Christians should listen to my podcast too. That seems obvious 😉
I’d like to thank Elijah Thompson for taking the time to answer these questions. Check out his podcast at www.thefetalpostion.com.