The question was:
Would you save one 5-year-old child from a burning building, or save 1,000 embryos.
The honest answer, which reportedly has never been realized, demonstrates that so-called Right-To-Life advocates are not what they profess to be and can not in all honesty insist that others conform to their Right-To-Life demands.
But to me this question exposes a possibly more fundamental hypocrisy.
The implied honest answer to the question is, of course, that you would save the five-year-old with the stated reasoning that a thousand, even ten million, embryos do not constitute human life whereas the five-year-old does. Otherwise, if life actually was believed to begin at conception, every self-respecting Right-To-Lifer would save the embryos and it would be a brutal end to the five-year-old’s life.
But imagine the five-year-old as you rapidly escape the conflagration with a couple of trays of embryos in vitro: the child is crying, flailing his or her arms against the flames, skin bubbling, hair blazing, begging to be saved as the adult heartlessly leaves them to die. You would probably drop the trays of embryos, grab the kid, and race out the door. You would be a hero and enjoy the accolades of the crowds outside, go on all the morning shows, and forever be remembered by the five-year-old as a hero.
We all tend to do things for the reward: What are we going to get out of it? Will a lab technician thank you but not even ask your name? How many embryos are going to remember their hero? Will saving a hundred embryos get you on the Today Show?
The question reveals not only our true opinion on when human life might be said to begin, but more so how, even in such an emotionally charged situation, we probably are reacting based on our own selfish vision of ourselves than on any objectively altruistic concern for human life.
There’s also the argument suggesting that after a child is born, Right-To-Lifers immediately lose interest and instead spend time and energy making sure school lunch programs and healthcare for children are expunged from the federal budget. But I guess that’s another question.