It's easy to poke fun at the seeming inconsistencies of those who purport to defend "The Culture of Life". Intensely passionate about life at the margins, they are relatively indifferent to life between the margins. They’ll march for the fetus, the embryo, and for those in a persistent vegetative state, but they’ll barely lift a finger for a sick child without health insurance. It’s as if they lose interest in the child the second she is born and don’t regain an interest unless she winds up in a permanent coma. Clearly, this is a peculiar point of view.
But it is not necessarily inconsistent. Defenders of the culture of life will tell you that they are guided by one simple principle: all human life is equally valuable. Or, more precisely, that all innocent human life is equally valuable. This principle puts embryos and human vegetables morally on a par with normal children and adults. On this view, killing embryos is just as wrong as killing children.
One can object to this view in at least three ways:
(1) deny that embryos, fetuses, and human vegetables are human.
(2) argue that embracing universal human equality commits one to fight for universal health care just as vigorously as it commits one to oppose abortion.
(3) reject the inherent equality of all innocent human lives.
(1) is pointless because embryos, fetuses, and human vegetables are obviously human. (2) is worth exploring but I’m going to defend (3). I think it's demonstrably false that all innocent human life is equally valuable. To see this, consider a simple thought experiment. Suppose that you had the power to determine whether the next 100 fetuses to be born would be born normal or seriously deformed. Suppose that, if you push button A, they'll all be born normal and healthy. If you push button B, they'll all be born permanently brain damaged and paralyzed. Now, if you genuinely believe that all innocent human life is equally valuable, then you should be indifferent between pushing A or B — you should flip a coin. But no sane person could be indifferent in this situation. It would be monstrous to flip a coin. Anyone who would seriously consider pushing B is so gripped by a dogma that he's beyond the reach of rational argument.
Clearly, the right thing to do is to push A, and that reveals the absurdity of believing that all human life is equally valuable. And without that principle, the Culture of Life doesn't have a leg to stand on.