SLED: A Simple Way to Talk with Those Who Are Prochoice About the Personhood of the Unborn

In my book Why ProLife? I say that every argument for abortion which appeals to a woman’s inconvenience, stress, and financial hardship can be made just as persuasively about her two-month-old, her two-year-old, her teenager, her husband, or her parents. In many cases older children are more expensive and place greater demands on their mother than an unborn child.

People immediately recognize those arguments as invalid when it comes to killing older children. So why not the unborn? After all, a three-month-old is much smaller than a ten-year-old, far less developed, and just as incapable of taking care of himself as an unborn.

Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute points out there are only four differences between a preborn and a newborn, and none of those differences justify killing unborn children. They can be remembered through the acronym SLED, which I’ll briefly summarize:

Size: Does how big you are determine who you are?

Level of development: Are twenty-year-olds more human than ten-year-olds, since they are smarter and stronger?

Environment: Does being inside a house make you more or less of a person than being outside? Does being located in his mother’s body rather than outside make a child less human?

Degree of dependency: Does dependence upon another determine who you are? Is someone with Alzheimer’s or on kidney dialysis less of a person? (Am I, an insulin-dependent diabetic, less of a person than before I developed the disease in 1985?)

In this 6-minute audio, Scott shares the SLED acronym with both humor and insight.

Alan Shlemon writes:

Although many abortion-choice advocates agree the unborn are human, they deny they are valuable human beings. They think this distinction justifies killing the unborn.

Often they use personhood language to express this view. They say the unborn might be human, but it’s not a person.

When confronted with this claim, ask a simple question: “What’s the difference between a human being and a human person?” They must answer this question. Why? They’ve just made the incredible claim that there are human beings that can be killed with impunity because they are not persons. What are their reasons for this view? What’s the difference between a born human and an unborn one that justifies killing the latter?

…The SLED tactic exposes the argument for abortion for what it really is: unjust discrimination. Abortion-choice advocates deny that all human beings are valuable and deserve protection. Which ones don’t qualify? The ones that are too small, not developed enough, in the wrong location, and are too dependent on other people.

The final question is not how old or big or smart or inconvenient the unborn are, but who they are.

The answer is simple: they are human beings, people fully deserving of protection.

Browse more prolife articles and resources, as well as see Randy's books Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice ClaimsWhy ProLife? and ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.

Photo by Benjamin Earwicker

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries