Saturday, May 15, 2010

Drawing a closer parallel with the "kidney donor" argument

A common argument in favor of abortion goes something like this:

A stranger needs a kidney transplant, or he will die. You are the only tissue match. Should you be forced to give up your kidney to save the stranger?

The attempted parallel fails on several levels:

1. A fetus in the womb isn't a stranger.
2. Pregnancy isn't some flukey thing that happens out of the blue; we know what causes it.
3. Pregnancy isn't permanent.
4. Abortion isn't letting somebody die who was moribund anyway; it's causing the violent death of somebody who would likely have lived a long life otherwise.

If we want to make the imaginary situation more akin to abortion, the scenario would have to go more like this:

You and your boyfriend/husband have a hobby that involves use of toxic chemicals that are fairly safe for adults, but can cause fatal kidney problems in children. Knowing this, you nevertheless pursue this hobby, exposing your child to the toxic chemicals. Your child ends up suffering kidney failure as a result. Should you be required to submit to a temporary transplant of one of your kidneys for the nine months it will take his kidneys to heal, or should it be perfectly legal and socially acceptable for you to hack him to death with a machete so you don't have to deal with any of this situation?

Does it look just a tad different now?

UPDATE: My resident troll evidently has NEVER encountered the "kidney donation" parallel. He/she/it has only heard the "Unconscious Violinist" parallel. Which is, in a nutshell:

You wake up one day in a hospital bed, forced to live the rest of your life in that hospital bed, hooked up by tubes to the Famous Violinist who has suffered kidney failure and can only be kept alive by using YOUR kidneys to filter his blood through your body. Is that right? Should they be allowed to do that to you?

1. Your unborn child is not a stranger. Your child is somebody that you have obligations toward that you do NOT have to total strangers.
2. You don't just wake up pregnant one morning. You do something to bring it on.
3. Pregnancy isn't permanent.
4. You're not bedfast for an entire pregnancy (except in VERY rare circumstances. We're discussing abortion on demand, not rare cases.)
5. Abortion isn't simply allowing somebody else to die of natural causes. It's choosing violent death for that person.

So! To make the case fit:

You and your main squeeze indulge in the hobby that can cause fatal kidney damage in children. You know this but choose to expose your child to the risk. He suffers kidney failure as a result. Can you be made to serve as a dialysis machine for your child for the nine months it takes his kidneys to heal -- we have the technology that allows you to go about most of your normal activities of daily living while doing so. You'll be inconvenienced because of the cumbersomeness of the arrangement, but you can work, socialize, make love, etc. with the same degree of privacy you'd ordinary ahve. Or should you be allowed to demand that the child's doctor hack him to bits so that you don't have to deal with it?

As for the machete, Lil, look at the results of a typical abortion. The baby is in pieces. The cause of death is dismemberment. I can change it to "run through an industrial shredder" if you like. The cause of death is still dismemberment. Basically supporters of abortion are saying that it is perfectly just and right for mothers to have done to their own helpless, defenseless, and innocent unborn children what Saddam Hussein did to political enemies.

Question: Was it okay when old Saddam did it, as well? Or is it only okay when the shredded person is a baby and the person ordering the shredding is his mom?


Suzanne said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing!

OperationCounterstrike said...

Who in the world equates pregnancy with kidney donation??? This is a straw man.

Lauren said...

Judith Jarvis Thomson comes to mind.

Surely you've heard her kidney donation/dying pianist argument. It's probably the most famous pro-choice analogy out there.

OperationCounterstrike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OperationCounterstrike said...

Lauren, JJT's essay was not about transplants. It was about being linked, by external tubing, to another person. (A violinist, not a pianist.)

You should consider READING her essay before you post about it.

Nulono said...

Okay, so the other points 1, 2, and 4 still apply.

The exact instrument is irrelevant.

Nulono said...

I've seen many people compare pregnancy to kidney donation, mostly on YouTube.

Lilliput said...

Christina what is it with this machete obsession?

WKen said...

Well, everyone's going to die sooner or later, anyway, so why shouldn't I be allowed to kill 'em?

I've seen the kidney donation argument, and that's my preferred comeback.

And, yes, it has to be "'em," not "them." It doesn't have the right ring of stupidity to it if you say "them."

Christina Dunigan said...

WK, by your argument, all laws against killing ought to be considered invalid, since everybody eventually dies.