One such example is the burning house question. It goes something like this; You are passing by a house that is on fire. You know that there is one young child passed out on the floor and in another part of the house are 100 frozen embryos waiting to be implanted. You only have time to save one or the other. Who do you choose to save?
The intention of the question is to get the prolifer to admit that either the embryo is not really as valuable as the born child, or you care nothing about born children in your zeal to protect the unborn at any cost.
On the surface it sure seems like a good "gotcha" question, but I have found that my answer fails to really satisfy the asker. My answer to this is always "It Depends". I am often accused at this point of trying to evade an answer, or trying to change the question, or even at one point I was accused of trying to argue in the hypothetical by questioning the question. (as though the question isn't already in the hypothetical).
So what does it depend on? I'm so glad you asked because few pro-choicers ever let me explain. The question does not provide enough information, as is, to give a definite answer. First let me say that I am not a fan of the IVF industry because of the practice of creating more embryos than are intended on being used. I know the process is costly and the idea is to create a surplus with the expectation that only a few will survive. In my mind this is another example of playing with life and death for financial reasons and that isn't a very large gap from abortion itself. I sympathize with couples who want to have their own child. I don't even need to point out the obvious availability of adoption. But If IVF is going to be attempted then I would have to insist that it is done on a one-at-a-time basis. You simply don't create life and then discard it whether it is in a womb or a petrie dish.
That having been said, when rescuers are sent into situations like this, they have to make life and death determinations. They do that by deciding quickly who has the best chance of survival. That viability is a very shifting sand. Many things come into play with this. How close is the EMT to one victim over the other? How badly injured are both parties? Can one be expected to recover from their injuries better than the other? I feel for anyone who finds themselves having to make that decision.
In this scenario, I would have to ask myself which group was more viable at the time I showed up. I am not trained in cryogenics at all so I would have no idea if the equipment was even still working and if there were any living embryos still inside. Even if I could know that, I would have to know that the embryos had a likely chance of survival outside of the building. Can cryogenics be mobiley supported? Even if I knew that the answer was yes so far, would I know that these embryos were dedicated to a couple? or were they already designated for destruction?
There are many factors involved in this question. Assuming that all things are equal and both the child and the cryogenic container full of embryos had equal chance of survival, I would have to save the 100 lives over the other single lost life. This is of course not realistic as all things would not be equal in my case. Why are there cryogenics in the house anyways? and where are the child's parents? Ah so much for hypothetical.
While I'm at it though let me ask a question of my own. If the unborn are indeed only potential life (despite all scientific evidence otherwise) then we should be able to equate that to other unborn life as being only potential and not actual. Therefore why can I not make my morning omelettes out of eagle eggs? Why do we protect their unhatched while we let our unborn die? If there is no eagle inside the egg but only a potential eagle then the egg should be as available as a chicken egg. Are eagle eggs even tasty?