Monday, October 29, 2012

Kidney donations and abortion

Recently the Texas Freethought Convention held a debate between a pro-life atheist and a pro-choice atheist. Near the beginning, the pro-choice atheist described this analogy:

An alternate version [of the Violinist], which I much prefer, simply asks if a parent should be legally required to donate a kidney to their child...the parent willingly procreated with the knowledge that there was some nonzero risk of passing on a rare kidney disease that would require this procedure from the parent to save the child's life. Many people might consider that parent a moral monster for refusing to donate that kidney, but I've yet to see any sound justification for legally requiring the donation. The morality of the situation and the legal responsibility are separate issues.
This analogy is meant to illustrate why abortion should be legal. Even if you are a parent and even if you consented to risk procreation and even if your child will die without your bodily donation, you still can not be legally required to donate your body to the child.

Do you think this analogy holds? Do you find it compelling? Why or why not?


  1. I think one problem is the immediacy of the danger. In this situation, you consent to sex which causes the creation of a unique human life dependent on your organs for care.... which you then provide for nine months, you give birth, you feed and clothe and love the child for some number of years, and then he or she suffers a kidney failure.

    It might make more sense to say that if you intentionally stab someone in the kidneys, even for the sake of causing their kidneys to fail, you can't be required to give them one of yours.

    I am glad, I guess, that choicers have apparently noticed our main objection to the Violinist Argument. It is always good for national conversations to go forward, which the change in the argument seems to imply.

    BTW, why the heck is there a violinist in the violinist argument?

    1. I think he's a violinist because the psychopathic Society of Music Lovers are his fans and they're the ones that kidnap you and hook you up to the poor violinist in the first place.

      Your analogy about stabbing someone in the kidneys is a bit better as far as immediacy. And it's true that you can't be required to give them one of your kidneys. So why would you be required to give them your uterus?

      There's also the temporary nature of bodily donation in terms of pregnancy. Nothing temporary about giving up a kidney...

    2. So, I don't think a judge can order you to provide kidneys if you stab the person and theirs fail, but I guess if you volunteer up your kidneys and the person you stabbed doesn't die due to your kidney transplant, then you also can't be charged with murder. But that has some absurd implications for pregnancy.

      Thanks for bringing up all this stuff - I had managed to blissfully forget all how complicated this discussion is

    3. I might be able to forget the complications too, if I could stop arguing about abortion for more than days at a time. :-P