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Little but alive

"Little but alive" Continued...

Issue: "Signs and wonders," Jan. 26, 2008

WORLD: So, the particular value that we have is that we're made in God's image?

GEORGE/TOLLEFSEN: Our freedom and reason are what is God-like (albeit, of course, in a strictly limited way) about us, what likens us to God. But to have been like God in these respects ties us to our Creator in a special way in our creation: He makes each of us, knowing us, in doing so, as the unique individuals we are. We do not intend to deny any of this in claiming that we are human animals, or in claiming that even those who do not share biblical faith can understand the biological, philosophical, and ethical truths that ground our claim that all human beings, including those at the beginning stages of life, have a profound, inherent, and equal dignity.

WORLD: You argue convincingly that questions about size and appearance of an embryo are not morally relevant, but are they politically relevant?

GEORGE/TOLLEFSEN: Embryos at risk of destruction suffer from two disadvantages when other human beings think about what is owed to them, though neither is ultimately unique to embryos. The first is the disadvantage of distance. Like those who suffer on the other side of the globe, embryos are distant from our awareness: We cannot see them, we do not know them personally, they cannot ask for our help. Second, they suffer the disadvantage of numbers. We cannot adequately respond, emotionally, when thousands of persons are killed or otherwise harmed; it would overwhelm us. And there are hundreds of thousands of embryos currently cryopreserved and considered "spares" from in vitro fertilization procedures.

WORLD: Since that response is muted, isn't it wise for pro-lifers in politics to emphasize the horrors of partial-birth abortion, then third-trimester abortion, then second-trimester abortion, gaining support by garnering sympathy for those who look most like born babies?

GEORGE/TOLLEFSEN: A focus on partial-birth abortion will typically pay greater political dividends. But there are two points to remember here. First, the disadvantages of distance and numbers make no genuine moral difference to what is owed, either to those on the other side of the globe, or to those in labs in our own country. And what is owed, above all, is the respect that is paid in our refusal to kill the innocent. We can't give up the call to make this respect a legal and social reality.

Obviously, political priorities must be chosen, and prudence must guide the choosing; but we should never abandon the principle of equal respect for all members of the human family, and our goal must be to make that principle a legal and cultural norm.

-For more of the George/Tollefsen interview, go to

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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