Stephanie Gray is no stranger to uncomfortable conversations. A staunch and persuasive pro-life advocate, she has debated abortion advocates across the country.
Earlier this year, Gray participated in the “Talks at Google” series. Her presentation “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility” spells out several excellent rebuttals to questions or statements that abortion advocates often pose to pro-lifers. Let’s take a look at four:
1. “The fetus is not alive.”
To counter this point, Gray will often ask others why an abortion is necessary if the fetus is not alive. Additionally, she will ask the question: Is the embryo or fetus growing? When her opponent or conversation partner inevitably replies “yes,” she logically points out that if the embryo or fetus is growing, it must be alive.
2. “The fetus is not a human being.”
Gray also addresses the misconception that a fetus is not a human being. She says that the word fetus “is not species-specific.” Animals also have fetuses. According to Gray, “fetus” is simply a stage of development or a designation of something’s age. “The words adult, teenager, toddler, baby, fetus, and embryo simply tell us how old an entity is, not what an entity is,” Gray states. Thus, to term an unborn baby a “fetus” should not be dehumanizing.
Additionally, Gray remarks that if the parents of the fetus or embryo are human, then the offspring will be as well. This should be common sense. When my wife became pregnant with our daughter, I did not wonder if she was going to give birth to a human being or a wolf.
3. “When does life begin?”
Gray manages to dispel the notion that opinion is divided as to when life begins. In this, she points out the fact that in vitro fertilization (IVF) specialists are trying to re-create a particular event—fertilization. In IVF, the answer is clear – why would it not be so in all other cases?
4. “What is the right definition of a person?”
Gray makes it clear that this is the key question undergirding the entire debate. And it’s one of philosophy, not science. Gray explains that there are those who believe a “person” is someone who is “rational, conscious, and self-aware.” Therefore, in their definition, fetuses and embryos are not people.
However, Gray rightly contrasts an embryo with an amoeba, viewing each under this same definition of a person. As she points out, an embryo does not meet this definition because of age, not because of what it is, while an amoeba will never meet that same definition because of what it is.
If we are all interested in human rights, then it should follow that the criteria for who receives human rights is “being human, not being human and a certain age.” As Gray says, “Humanity is consistent as age and abilities change.”
Gray illustrates various other inconsistencies in the pro-abortion argument during her presentation, including the injustice of prioritizing the strong (the mother) over the weak (the unborn child) in advocating for a woman’s right to choose abortion.
Gray manages to make each of these arguments without appealing to a religious text or authority, which is increasingly valuable in our secularized society.
Pro-lifers would do well to internalize her arguments and rebuttals and have them at the ready the next time they must stand for the sanctity of human life.
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