Ep 87. Those who advocate for abortion think they are so clever when they ask this question of pro-lifers: is an acorn an oak tree? A student at Virginia Commonwealth University asked this question of Elijah, and in this episode, we'll have Elijah himself on to talk about the conversation with us and discuss how to respond to this question, and we also talk about his experience as an intern with Created Equal and why YOU should do our internship!
Anthony Levatino used to perform abortions but he stopped after a family tragedy and now he is a powerful pro-life advocate.
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Episode 87: Is an Acorn an Oak Tree? Let's Discuss!
Maggie: Have you ever been told that in the same way, an acorn is not an oak tree, a baby is not a human. Let's talk about how we can respond. Come debrief with us.
Hello, my name is Maggie and I'm here with Ethan as always. And not as always. We are here with Elijah. I instead of Seth. Yes. Welcome Elijah. So this episode's actually gonna be kind of in the same style of the first season of The Debrief. If you were listening to us way back then, go back and listen to us to remember how it was like and just cuz we like your listening.
, so basically that means. We're gonna be talking about Elijah's clip with him right here, reacting to his real conversation that he had. So let's get into listening to the clip.
Elijah: So if the fetus is not human. What species is it? That's the article I, that's the first article that just popped up.
Student: It's not a species, it's like,
Elijah: It's not a species?
Student: Would you consider
Elijah: every, every living Organism belongs to a species.
Student: Would you consider a seed, an oak tree?
Elijah: I'm sorry, a seed.
Student: Would you consider like an acorn?
Student: An entire tree.
Elijah: No, it's not an entire tree. Just like a baby is not an entire adult. It's at a young stage in it's development. Right.
Student: But it's not a tree yet. It's not even a sprout yet.
Elijah: It belongs to the species of oak tree. Correct.
Student: Yeah. And so does an embryo.
Elijah: So you're saying, you're saying we can't know what species the embryo belongs to.
Student: I didn't say it was, it's not a species issue. Species is also, all humans are part of the same species.
Okay. Species is not an issue.
Elijah: So, so, you know that
Student: that's just an incorrect term to be using.
Elijah: Okay. So then you do know that the embryo is human then? Right.
Student: The embryo is human, but it is not a human. Is it a human byproduct?
Yeah, it is part of human, it's part of human development, but is it not? Yeah.
Maggie: all right. What is your impression listening back to that Elijah?
Elijah: Yeah, so we were at Virginia Commonwealth University and I was talking to a student. Uh, we were just going through basically what is the pre-born, is it a human being?
And you might have heard towards the end of the clip she said, It is human, right? Mm-hmm. It might have human dna, but it's not a human.
Maggie: Yeah. What does she mean by that?
Elijah: And the point she was making, I think is probably like, if I came up to you and I, um,, no, I wouldn't do this to somebody. I might do it to myself, like, uh, scratched off some of my skin cells.
Right? Those skin cells would be human. They have human dna n mm-hmm. But that's what she's saying, that the pre-born embryo would be like, it would be human, but it's not a full. You know, whole human being. Mm-hmm. Right? So when she brought up the acorn, she said, is an acorn an oak tree? And I said, no, an acorn is not an oak tree.
Right. But an acorn is of the same being. It's the same being and it's of the same species and it's in a younger stage of development just as an adult human is not the same as a baby human or human embryo, but they're all individual human beings. Mm-hmm.
Maggie: Yeah. It really seems like a lot of people think that, the word human is a developmental term. Mm-hmm. Thinking you only become human when you reach a certain age, I guess. , although they, they don't admit that you're any age, but, um, and then they kind of, on the flip side, they act like. Fetus is the kind of thing you are. So it's like they're both flipped.
Ethan: It's backwards.
Maggie: yeah, it's actually the opposite of that. , so she says it's not a species issue. I wonder what kind of issue would it be if it's not a species issue. Do you have any ideas? Ethan or Elijah?
Ethan: What do you mean by that? Not a species issue. Like,
Maggie: well, that's what she said, like, She said it's not a species issue as just as if that's the wrong thing to be focusing on.
Mm-hmm. Because Elijah was saying like they're of the same species and she even agreed with that. Yeah. I think it sounded like initially in the clip she disagreed with that, but then she agreed. Mm-hmm. Right. ,
Ethan: yeah, that's an interesting question, Elijah. I'm, I mean, you were there in the conversation.
Do you know what she meant? By that it's not a species issue, cuz I guess I'm struggling to figure out what that comment meant.
Elijah: Yeah, so originally she was saying it's not a human at all. Right? . And I clearly showed her by pulling up an article online that yeah, we know it is a human being. Right. So then she realized, okay, it definitely is a human uhhuh.
But that's when she started making the argument that just because it belongs to the species human. It might not be itself a whole being. Right? So it might just be a byproduct, another human being, uhhuh, right? And that is a common misconception for a lot of people. Like a lot of people will say, well, you think the embryo deserves a right to life?
Why does that mean that? Couldn't we just take it back further and say that male sperm or female eggs have the right to life? And the reason that that is completely bogus is because at the point of fertilization, right, there's no longer a sperm from the father or eggs from the mother. It creates a human zygote, and that's a human being, right?
Yeah. So that's the very point where it's a distinct. Whole human being that has its own dna, its own genetic structure. It's separate from the father or the mother.
Ethan: Yeah. Well, this kind of gets into parts versus whole, which is something we learn about in biology. A lot of people we talk to on outreach.
Sounds like you kind of brought up the example of, well, if I just brush off some skin cells, you know, some people say, well, you're committing mass genocide because you're, you know, killing human cells and that's what you think abortion does. And it's like, well, No, that's, that's not what we're saying because there's a difference between a biological hole and a biological part.
If an amputee, someone who's had a limb taken off, because it was injured or something like that, are they any less human than someone who has all four of their limbs? No they're not. Or it's not right because, , they're a whole entity and if you take away one of their parts, it doesn't make them any less human.
, you know, when we go all the way back to like a two celled human, , zygote, they are not, they're whole as those two cells uhhuh. And as they gain more and more cells, you know, they have more and more parts. but they're still a whole entity. So it's an interesting,
Maggie: yeah, I, I always think it's, it just makes so much sense to me that we have to have a small beginning, right.
To get to where we are now. It's not like we can. Just all of a sudden be, when we're at a, a bigger phase like Uhhuh, how could we not start at a very small place? Right. And that, that single cell zygote, that's where each of us began, our individual lives. Yep. Yeah. Um, and I think that's just a really basic, but important thing to understand.
Elijah: Yeah. And it's also important to make the distinction that, , a being does go through certain stages of development. Right. But it stays the same species the whole time. Yeah, yeah. Right. So when she's talking about, is an acorn the same as an oak tree? Well, they're not the same in the sense that the oak tree is , much more grown further down the developmental stage.
Yeah. But it was the same being, it belonged to the same species the whole time. So that's why I would compare if you were to say, an acorn is not an oak tree. That's, like I said in the clip, very , similar to saying a baby is not a full grown adult human being. Mm-hmm. Right. I was once a baby, I'm now an adult, but I belong to the same species the whole time. And I was the same being the whole time.
Maggie: Yeah. Like, um, what's his name? The former abortionist? His famous
Ethan: Oh, Dr. Anthony Levatino.
Maggie: Yes. Yes. He always says, you always were you. Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. , yeah, so I, right after you said that in the clip, She still didn't quite get it quite, she didn't get it at all.
, and she says it's not even a sprout yet. , well, that's like saying it's not even a toddler yet, but really, why does that matter if they're the same species? You know, we keep bringing it back to species, which she doesn't think is an important right thing to focus on, but it really is so important.
If they're the same species, then, I mean, that's the basis of human equality, right? Mm-hmm. Human. If you're human, then you're equal with every other human. Yeah. No matter your age. so that's, we, that's what we have to focus on.
Elijah: Yeah. Yeah. Something I'll ask people, a lot on outreach is, do you believe in human equality?
And I don't think I've ever met someone who's answered no to that. But you can point out that some people really don't believe in human equality because they believe we should treat some humans different based on how developed they are. Yeah. Right. So if you're talking about in Oak Tree, Right. We would treat plants.
I mean, we have the right to treat plants as products. So if we have a seed, we're not gonna treat it like it's an oak tree. Right. But that's completely different from human beings because human beings have intrinsic moral value. Mm-hmm. Meaning that you can't. Uh, we would never say that just because somebody's an adult, they're older, they're able to produce more, that they're suddenly more intrinsically valuable than a toddler or even a fetus inside the womb.
If you believe in human equality, that means that you think that all people are equal in value, and you're not allowed to discriminate against any of them, take away any of their human rights. Mm-hmm.
Maggie: Yeah. And it, it would be a terrible thing to do that. Yeah. Because we, we have to treat, we should treat all humans equally.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
So, one question I have is if someone says, like what she said, that they're, they're human, but they're not a human.
What do you say to them to help them understand, what you're saying, why they are actually a human? Mm-hmm. And do by a human. I think I get the feeling that they mean person, like they're getting into the personhood argument. Yeah. But is, is there any way that y'all have found that really helps people understand your point?
Elijah: Well, yeah, I mean, I think just like we talked about earlier, it's really a whole or part question. Mm-hmm. Right? So if you chop my arm off, someone could pick up that dead arm and say, this is a human arm. If you took a DNA test, you'd find human cells in that arm. But that arm itself is not a human. It's part of a human.
It is a human arm, but it's not a human. The difference between that though, and, uh, myself as a person, I am a human, right? Mm-hmm. And in the same way, even a zygote in the womb, it's a human because it has all of its own genetic structure. It has all of its own chromosomes. Like we said, it's separate from the father or mother.
Yeah. Mm-hmm. Right? So that's the difference between human, something being human or something. Being a human. Mm-hmm. And what this girl was saying on outreach is she doesn't believe that. , the zygote or the embryo is a human possibly just because it's so small, so underdeveloped. That is true, but it, you know, it, it still holds true that that is a whole human being.
Maggie: Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. That was gonna be one of my questions, like, why doesn't she think they're a human? How do we know that they are, I mean, I know of course, like something we always talk about is that if you have human parents, then you are a human. We wouldn't say that skin cells that you can scrape off your arm, have human parents, Yeah.
Even though they came from a human, there's something that the word parent means that like parents have offspring. Yeah.
Elijah: I think another distinction, if you talk about the oak tree again, Is right. There's like a, , a being, a living being, and it will belong to a species. If you ripped some of the branches off that oak tree, you wouldn't say this is an oak.
You wouldn't grab that branch and say, this is an oak tree. Mm-hmm. You'd say this is part of an oak tree, just like ripping off a human being's arm. Right? Yeah. But you know that, that acorn. Is that being in its species of the species oak tree and it's in a very small stage of development. That's what the human embryo is like.
Maggie: Yeah. So I, one thing that I think we really need to understand about this , it can be kind of a stumper for some people, , to say, , is an acorn in oak tree Is a baby really a human? but we have to remember that tree is just a developmental term, so mm-hmm. You could say, A, an acorn is a future tree.
, but that's not synonymous to saying a baby is a future human. Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Because we know that, like you said, they are the, the actual, the same being. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So, I noticed when I was looking back through your clips, this seemed to be a pretty long conversation. How did the rest of the conversation go with this girl?
Elijah: Oh, it was, uh, it was quite the conversation, so, , we were actually getting ready to leave and this lady walked up to me and said she actually, I didn't walk up to her. She walked up to me and just said, I want to hear your guys' perspective and everything. So Uhhuh, it was definitely a, a good conversation.
She was very respectful. Wasn't mean or rude at all. but she was really, it. I felt like our conversation, whatever topic we talked about, it kept coming back to. Do we treat all human beings equally or. Do we not? Right? Yeah. , and she, I think she mentioned like also in the case of rape, , she shared that if, if someone, if someone's been raped, then the, I guess the decision of that woman to have an abortion matters a lot more than the life of that human embryo inside.
Mm-hmm. , and while you know, the circumstance of rape is a horrible thing, We believe that the violence of abortion, killing that innocent human being, never cures the violence of rape. Right? So it was definitely a touchy conversation at times too. But ultimately she did not want to, I guess she didn't want to consider the embryo, the zygote, the fetus.
She didn't want to consider it a human being because then if she did, she realized that she is really rejecting human equality. She's saying that some humans matter more than others and we can treat some humans differently than others.
Maggie: Okay, so she did agree that if you are a human, you should be treated equally and that you are equal.
Yes. Okay. That's good.
Ethan: It's a step in the right direction. Yeah. Yeah. At least
that, yes. Laying a foundation for hopefully another conversation she might have in the future. Yeah.
Elijah: Yeah. We'll see.
Maggie: Hopefully, yeah. Did she tell you the point when she thinks we are human?
Elijah: Yeah, it was, it was a bit of a gray area as it is with most people.
Yeah. Mm-hmm. , I, I don't remember exactly if, if she had gave an exact, , Time or stage in development when it is considered a human now. Um,, okay. But yeah, that's, I'm not sure.
Maggie: Well that's cool that you got to have that conversation with her. Yeah. And that she was respectful. That's always refreshing when Yeah.
Yeah. People who disagree with us are still respectful. Definitely. Yeah. So, turning gears a little bit. Is that a term?
Ethan: Switching gears.
Maggie: Switching gears. Okay, whatever.
Ethan: We have The Maggie version.
Maggie: , turning gears. You are a gap year intern with us right now, Elijah. Sadly, you are planning to leave.
Elijah: Yeah. But on wait, won't, won't I be gone by the time this video comes out?
Elijah: Oh, no. Okay, great. All right. I'm still here. People.
Maggie: Yes, we do record these a few weeks usually before they come out. Fyi, you probably knew that already. , but you were a summer intern last year. I was, yeah. Um, so how are you feeling about being on staff? Sort of, I guess gap year, not technically on staff, but in between phase.
Elijah: Yeah. No, last summer I enjoyed so much. , I was actually just earlier today reading through some of the comments that. The interns had made last summer, and I saw one from Ethan actually that said, you can't, , basically you can't do the summer internship and be the same. Mm-hmm. Right. You can't be the same person at the end of the internship, which is just so true because the conversations that we have, the dialogues we have, and then the, , outreach we do, it's like.
I've never done something like this in my life before. Mm-hmm. Where you're engaging the culture in such a real tangible way with these super important issues like abortion. Right. So I was very excited to come back on staff for the gap year internship. , and it's gonna be, yeah, a lot of fun working with these summer interns.
I do a lot of social media management, so you'll probably see me on Instagram, Facebook, things like that. And while it, it's a. It's an interesting job, but I do, I do love working with like the interns and, and capturing videos of them and just helping to share everyone's story. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Maggie: Cool. Yes, Elijah and I work in the same office, so. We get a lot of time together. It's quite entertaining
Elijah: Too much, I'm afraid
Ethan: It's entertaining to the rest of the office.
Maggie: Elijahs quite the goofball
Elijah: that's coming from you, Maggie.
Maggie: Okay. Yeah, I am too., uh, let me make a great team. Okay. , what there, was there anything that stands out for you that was very impactful, impactful from your summer internship?
Elijah: Yeah, so I mean, like I said, obviously the whole thing was super great. , but specifically for me, . I guess this, this was just an opportunity, like I said before, to do something so real and tangible, right? Because I, I grew up as a Christian, , mainly conservative, you know, I. I knew what I would call a lot of correct ideas.
I had a lot of correct opinions on things and I love, I really love to read about things, to write essays about, , these abstract ideas. I love all of that. But Created Equal was really the first time I had the opportunity to live that out in the real world, right? Cuz you can talk, you can talk forever about how abortion is wrong and how abortion kills babies.
It hurts women. It's a bad thing. But that's not the same. It's just not the same as when you go to an abortion clinic. Mm-hmm. And, you know, one of the, , things I remember the most from last year was, uh,, when a woman was walking in, her name was Britney, and she was considering an abortion, but she had also talked to us.
And I just remember hearing one of our staff members, Silas, just, , he was just yelling like, Hey, I'll adopt your baby. I'm willing to adopt your baby. And just praying outside the abortion clinic, just having those real life moments. That's something that you don't get anywhere else. You don't get that from reading books.
Yeah. You don't get that from watching movies. You don't get that from even having good classroom discussions. You only get that by going out into the real world, so. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Maggie: Yeah. And I'm so impressed with all you young kids. I mean, basically you are still kids, like a lot of y'all , , are slash were under 18 even doing this.
Hard work. So I'm, I'm just so impressed and proud of y'all for doing that. It is, like you said, not it's like nothing else that you could do. , it's, I mean, that's the real hard, gritty work of the pro-life movement.
Elijah: Yeah. And I think, I think it's really good to emphasize the. The focus on young people I know created Equal does such, such a great job at getting young people involved.
, not that older people aren't important. They definitely are. , older people are usually more important for their wisdom because they have more life experience and things like that. But younger people usually have more, , determination, motivation, right? Mm-hmm. And today you see so many young people, , just.
They don't really seem to have a purpose or something to hold onto, something to fight for. Right. And then there's a lot of different, different groups and or social organizations that try to try to get their attention basically. But what I've noticed with Created Equal is that it's a big growing experience and it's something young people can do.
Right. And then it's something that will grow them so much so. Yeah. Yeah.
Maggie: Love that message. You can do it. Yes. Well, , One more question and then I'll wrap up. But, , if someone is on the fence about doing the internship, what would you tell them?
Elijah: , I would tell them do it. Got it. No, really it. I get that it's something that's different.
, I had heard about the summer internship, actually the, the previous year before I did it. Same with the justice ride. And I thought, okay, this stuff is all a little strange. I know there's people who do that, but I don't know if I'm one of those people. Mm-hmm. Don't think that this has to be your thing, quote unquote, for you to do the internship.
Don't think that, you know, being pro-life. That has to be your thing like, First of all, it'll become your, whatever you do becomes your thing. Yeah. but don't think that you have to have some kind of qualification or that, or even just like some kind of skill. Like you'll learn and you'll grow. And this team, this team is the best team to be a part of because everyone here has come from different backgrounds.
A lot of us, , we're not like these super. Well put together college educated, super intelligent people. We're just normal people who are willing to be used by God. And if you're willing to be used by God, then God will use you. Right. Yeah. So my biggest thing I would tell people considering the internship or the justice ride is be willing and just jump into it and God will ultimately, he will figure it out for you, and he will give you, The ride of your life, really?
Or the summer of your life In my case,
Maggie: yes. That's so funny hearing that from you because you now you seem like someone who, this is just like perfect for you, but I guess I didn't know that that wasn't always you, so do it. Definitely not if you're on the fence, do the internship. Uh, it's too late for this year, but next year, sign up next year.
Yeah. Shoot us an email. Yes. Well, to summarize this episode, , what we talked about at the beginning of the episode, remember that you don't need to be stumped by the question of whether an acorn is an oak tree. It really is a species question. An acorn is the very same kind of thing as an oak tree, just like a zygote embryo, or fetus is the very same kind of thing as an adult human.
, they're both humans only. , Zygote or embryo or fetus are a lot younger, so, to discriminate based on age is arbitrary and it's pretty mean. So don't do that. Debrief with us again next week.