Abortion advocates claim that an unborn child is not valuable because of one or more of the following factors: her/his size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency or personhood of the child. This article is part one in a five part serious examining each of these claims.
The moral relevance of Lilliputians
In Jonathan Swift’s work Gulliver’s Travels, the main character Gulliver encounters little people 1/12 the size of human beings.
If a race of individuals were found to exist who like Lilliputians possess human characteristics, yet were only six inches tall, would these individuals have moral relevance?
When we consider the issue of scale that in the view of the Lilliputians, Gulliver a normal sized human being is twelve times their size therefore he is a giant among normal sized men.
Every characteristic that is possessed by human beings is present in the small Lilliputian people. Therefore it would be strange to deny moral relevance to a being simply based on her/his size.
Imagine that like Gulliver, after visiting the Lilliputians we were to visit the giant Brobdingnagians who are twelve times the size of normal humans. If the Lilliputians can be considered morally irrelevant because of their size then it follows that humans are likewise morally irrelevant to Brobdingnagians.
Some may protest at this analogy that we are normal sized for our species, but an unborn child is not a normal size for our species. However that is assuming that human beings start out as adults or that being an adult is normal for humans and being of other stages of development is abnormal. However an unborn child in the first few weeks of development is also the size that her peers. She is likewise of normal size for a human of that age and stage of development.
Approaching ethics based on size can only be based on a might makes right idea that completely trashes the Western notion that the law is there to protect the most defenseless human beings.
It is therefore clear: The size of an individual cannot be the basis for her rights.
Stay tuned for our next article based on level of development.