Environment, better understood as the location of the baby, is the E in SLED. When babies are born they move from their mother’s uterus to the outside world. But should the timing of this move determine whether they should live or die?
Infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murdering three children after they survived his attempts to abort them. Gosnell fully intended to kill these children when they were still inside the uterus; he was only charged with murder because they were no longer in the “environment” of the womb. (Had the abortions been “successful,” the deaths of these three children would have joined Gosnell’s 21 felony convictions for performing illegal abortions after Pennsylvania’s 24 week limit.) The murder charges—and in the eyes of the law, the personhood of the child—were determined solely by the child’s environment.
Biologically, using the environment of the womb to determine personhood is absurd. Is a baby born prematurely at 23 weeks more worthy of life than a baby still in the womb at 24? Yet the law protects one and not the other. Although certain trespassing laws (including variations on the Castle Doctrine) take a person’s physical location into account, it is unfathomable to consider a baby trespassing in the womb, and thus forfeiting the right to live.
It is critical that we understand the logical implications of pro-abortion arguments and communicate them clearly. Many pro-abortion ideas seem ridiculous as soon as they are examined for any length of time. Things are really not that complicated when it comes to life and death. Environment, or location, is never an excuse to take a life.