Student: Umm, my question was about abortion and I just wanted to know why exactly do you think a first trimester fetus has moral value.
Shapiro: Okay, so a first trimester fetus has moral value because whether you consider it a potential human life or a full-on human life it has more value than just a cluster of cells. If left to its natural processes it will grow into a baby. So the real question is ‘where do you draw the line?’ So are you gonna draw the line at the heartbeat? Because it’s very hard to draw the line at the heartbeat because there are people who are adults who are alive because of a pacemaker and they need some sort of outside force generating their heartbeat. Okay are you gonna do it based on brain function? Okay well what about people who are in a coma? Should we just kill them? Right, the problem is anytime you draw any line other than the inception of the child, you end up drawing a false line that can also be applied to people who are adults. So either human life has intrinsic value or it doesn’t. And I think we both agree that adult human life has intrinsic value, can we start from that premise?
Student: I believe that “sentient” has, uh, is what gives something moral value, not necessarily being a human alone.
Shapiro: Okay, so when you’re asleep, can I stab you? (audience chuckles)
Student: I’m still considered “sentient” when I’m asleep.
Shapiro: Okay, if you are in a coma from which you may awake, can I stab you?
Student: Well then, uh, no I guess.
Student: But that’s still potential sentience and it’s still potential, like…
Shapiro: I agree with you about potential sentience. You know what else has potential sentience? Being a fetus.
— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) September 15, 2017