He tells us that it's alright to execute these developing human beings because, according to him, there's no capacity for consciousness up to a certain point. And yet, earlier in the debate you heard him say that we only know things based on observation. And I'd like to know: On what observational basis does he know what consciousness the developing fetus has or doesn't have, or is even capable of having? Are capabilities something that you observe as well? You see, he just can't decide which worldview he wants to use. As a matter of fact, what you see in the case of the developing fetus is always a matter of degree. There is no question after conception that you have all the biological components here of a human being. The child does not become a human being when it is fully developed in its mental capacities. I can't believe a man who has relatives who were killed under that kind of thinking would now apply it to innocent unborn children. For you see, if you start saying "those people that you don't deem fully developed" can now be executed, then we're right back to Hitler and the genocide of people that you think aren't fully developed.(Emphases follow Bahnsen's voice pattern.)
This served as a bit of an inspiration for me last Thursday when I was engaging some pro-legal-baby-murder protesters near the Justice For All exhibit on the nearby university campus. I found myself in a conversation with two young Jewish men, one of whom was making the case that the unborn child acquires human rights at time of his or her exhibition of brain waves. Another protester later told me that whether the unborn baby has human rights should not affect the legality of abortion and does not affect it in her mind, but anyway... I'd say for most reasonable people, if the baby has human rights and is human, they would say it shouldn't be legal and it isn't moral to kill the baby. In other words, for most people, unborn baby = human? is the foremost question of the abortion debate.
The point that I made to the Jewish gentleman was rather provocative. The 3rd Reich decided on an arbitrary basis that Jewish people (among other ethnicities and social groupings) were not human. (Yes, the tired "Hitler example"; don't turn your brain off - just b/c it is [over]used does not mean it does not hold.) I ask: In what way is the arbitrary decision that the unborn human acquires human rights when s/he exhibits brain waves qualitatively different than the Nazis' arbitrary decision that Jewish people were not human?
He responded: "But these Jews were walking, talking, had jobs, had families, had lives. How could you say that it's the same?"
I reminded him that an arbitrary decision based on performance can be on a limitless sliding scale - whomever is in power gets to decide who has human rights. If they decide you don't have human rights, you don't. Then you're no more important than cattle, and you can be killed without much remorse at all. Which is what happened.
Human rights must be bestowed based on whether one is human. There is no good reason to believe that human rights are bestowed based on what one can do. This leads to all sorts of highly faulty and awful conclusions - those in a coma are no longer human. A little adjustment one way or the other, and someone loses his humanity when he is asleep. Or I have greater human rights if I am older, stronger, smarter, richer, or in a better location; if those things are true, and someone who is younger, less intelligent, and poorer is standing in my way, I can morally (and legally) kill that person. They were inconvenient to me, and my human rights supersede theirs.
No, the real bases for human rights is ontological, not performance-based. We argue against the latter using, among other things, the acronym SLED.
The conferral of human rights does not, indeed, must not depend on:
-Size or physical appearance
-Level of development
-Degree of dependency