JANUARY 23, 2012
by Summer Woods ’14, Contributing Writer
“Daddy, can I kill this?”
While at first glance this question appears to have nothing to do with the ongoing Republican primaries, Scott Klusendorf believes that it’s central to a major moral component of the campaign.
Klusendorf, president and founder of the Life Training Institute, spoke on the issue of abortion last Thursday in a Cultural Life Program event sponsored by the Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow. He used the innocent inquiry, recently raised by his five-year-old in regard to a lizard, to open his lively and intense pro-life argument.
A UCLA graduate who holds a master’s degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, Klusendorf travels throughout the United States training pro-life advocates to appropriately and persuasively defend their views. He has participated in many debates with female pro-choice advocates such as Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood.
His speech at Furman, delivered to a full audience of more than 150 students, avoided religious components of the debate. Instead, he constructed his case using philosophical and scientific approaches to abortion. Klusendorf began by asking, “What is the unborn?” He said that he would be willing to concede the debate if his opposition could prove that developing fetuses are not human.
Klusendorf went on to outline opposition to his theory, including that of philosopher Judy Thomson, who first raised the bodily rights issue in her 1971 essay “A Defense of Abortion.” Her view contends that no woman should be forced to use her body to sustain the life of another human being and makes parallels to donating a kidney.
Klusendorf denounced Thomson’s claim by stating that it uses an unfit parallel, although his argument was composed of scientific concepts that he attempted to validate by using common metaphors, such as controversial comparisons of abortion to slavery and violent murder.
He said that biological and cognitive maturity were the only differences between a grown adult and a fetus and asserted, “If development is what gives us value, we have a real problem with human equality.” He further elaborated on his theory by emphasizing a right to human equality at all stages of self-awareness.
He completed his lecture with a call to action: “Remind your critics that if we care about truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter what the cost to our own self-interests.”