The Corner

Re: Re: Derb On Embryos

Yes, Kathryn, but that is just a slippery-slope argument: “If we start treating week-old blastocysts as if they were utterly inanimate matter, where will it end?”

To which the answer is: It will end where we, collectively, decide it will end. Not all slopes are slippery. To pick up my previous analogy: We dropped the voting age from 21 to 18 back in, what? the early 70s. I suppose there must have been slippery-slopers at that time who said: “Wait and see!–By 2005 we’ll have 9-year-olds in the voting booth!” Yet this has not happened.

A lot of RTL arguments seem to me to come down to saying that we, collectively, can’t be trusted to decide such things.

Scanning back through history at some of the things that we, collectively, have decided, I do see the force of this point. Under a system of self-government, though, there is really no choice. We, the people, draw the legal line; and we, the people, must then guard that line vigilantly.

Sometimes, no doubt, we shall fail to do so, and there will be some sliding down the slope. But this is what self-government means. The only alternatives are (a) a nation united under a single, precise, and all-encompassing moral dogma to which practically all citizens voluntarily assent, or (b) despotism. For better or worse, we are far from being (a), and God forbid we should become (b). So we are left with fudge and compromise, even on matters concerning life itself–of which this, of course, is not the only one.


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