Given a very simple choice, people often refuse to give a simple answer.
A common refrain from anti-abortion activists is “life begins at conception,” with the implication that an unborn fetus, embryo, or even zygote carries with it the same humanity and right to life that any living, walking human does.
However, Twitter user Patrick Tomlinson shared a hypothetical question based on the “life begins at conception” premise that he says hasn’t elicited an honest answer in 10 years.
In posing this question, he proves the adage is little more than an impractical, theoretical pretense used by pro-lifers to evade an honest discussion.
He sets up the question by indicating it allows the respondent two options.
It's a simple scenario with two outcomes. No one ever wants to pick one, because the correct answer destroys their… https://t.co/1qG7fkEh5v— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508200549.0
And then, he begins the question:
Here it is. You're in a fertility clinic. Why isn't important. The fire alarm goes off. You run for the exit. As yo… https://t.co/a14PIulvMh— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508200658.0
They're in one corner of the room. In the other corner, you spot a frozen container labeled "1000 Viable Human Embr… https://t.co/UeqOFsWDax— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508200790.0
At this point in the hypothetical, one can likely see what decision must be made.
Do you A) save the child, or B) save the thousand embryos? There is no "C." "C" means you all die. In a decade of… https://t.co/ZR4BESn7vh— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508200939.0
If 1,000 embryos are just as much human life as any walking child or adult, then pragmatism would dictate that saving the embryos is the more virtuous act. But when pressed with the scenario, Tomlinson claims that he has never gotten a straight answer to what is a very simple and direct question.
They will never answer honestly, because we all instinctively understand the right answer is "A." A human child is… https://t.co/M8JsSemBxU— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508201068.0
Which do you save from the fire: a 5-year-old child or 1,000 human embryos? Tomlinson argues the choice is obvious because “they are not the same, not morally, not ethically, not biologically.”
He goes as far as to say, based on his experience with anti-abortionists who use this line of logic, that there are no people who truly believe that an embryo is worth as much as a human life.
This question absolutely evicerates their arguments, and their refusal to answer confirms that they know it to be t… https://t.co/MFXuwe9D2z— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508201190.0
The assertion that an embryo is as alive as a person is meant to goad an emotional response from a person rather than a practical or logical one.
They are lying to you to try and evoke an emotional response, a paternal response, using false-equivalency. No one… https://t.co/d35GziXYtg— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508201326.0
Finally, Tomlinson affirms that this type of blunt question is one that a respondent can’t equivocate or evade, and as such, the question can serve as a method of forcing someone beholden to this line of thinking to confront the issue in black-and-white fashion rather than clouding it with emotion.
Don't let them. Use this question to call them out. Reveal them for what they are. Demand they answer your question… https://t.co/CHsjwCmvUx— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508201441.0
And for those who try to nonetheless…
@AndrewBL89 Exactly. Thank you for agreeing with me.— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1508249466.0
...well, they find themselves unwittingly buying into the very premise that Tomlinson poses, despite their best efforts.