Fetal Development

Ep 21 – That Clump of Cells is Just a Parasite!

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Thanks for joining me for episode 21!
Click here to listen to it in a new window.

Here is my claim:
The unborn is a living, human organism.
I will use this episode to defend this claim.

How do we know that the unborn is alive?

One of the reasons that we describe life is because it’s hard to define life. If we define it in a certain way, it might include something like a virus or a tornado, and those are things that we know are not actually alive. I have a coffee mug (see image) that accurately describes life in a way that coincides with most professional biologists on the topic.

Life can be described as having the following features:

  • Irritability
  • Growth
  • Propagation
  • Inheritance
  • Movement
  • Metabolism & energy conservation

All of these things are qualities that the unborn has, so therefore the unborn must be alive.

Counter claim: “Alright, the unborn is alive. But it’s certainly not human!”

How do we know that the unborn is human?
I recorded an episode on this exact topic. Visit TheFetalPosition.com/11 for that.
But I have a few more thoughts on this.

One of the reasons pro-choice people think pro-life people are crazy is cuz they think that the human is constructed like a car, rather than developed. Human beings are developed from within (like a Polaroid picture), rather than constructed (like a car). This is a morally relevant difference because the entity developing in the womb is a whole human organism, unlike a car that may be considered a car when it gets the engine or the paint job or whatever.
There isn’t a heart added at 6 weeks, the unborn develops a heart at 6 weeks.

The unborn isn’t a potential human, it is a human with potential.
If someone claims that the unborn is merely a potential human, ask the question what is it before it becomes a human. If it is a potential X, it must currently be an actual Y. What species is it before it becomes a member of the species Homo sapiens?

Counter claim: “Alright, so the living human entity, but it’s just a clump of cells! Or it is alive in the same sense that a skin cell is alive!”

How do we know that the unborn is an organism, not just a clump of cells?
One of the more quick responses is to point out that technically we are all “clumps of cells”, but I think that might confuse things. The pro-choicer is suggesting that the unborn is a clump of cells that does not function as an organism. They believe it functions more like a bag of marbles rather than a living being.
Working  off of the fact that the unborn is human, we have to ask… what do we mean by “human”? Well, gametes, somatic cells, embryos, and toddlers are human in the adjective sense, only the newly created human organism is human in the noun sense.
A skin cell is human, but it is not A HUMAN.
A fetus is both human AND A HUMAN.

If the skin cell of a male gynecologist enters the woman’s uterus during an examination, no one thinks that she will become pregnant because of that. But if a human (in the noun sense) enters the uterus, she will likely become pregnant.

This is why it’s so stupid to suggest that masturbation is genocide, or that we ought to mourn every period.
It’s a confusion of parts and wholes.
It’s a confusion of adjectives and nouns.

So what is the difference between an organism and a clump of cells?

An organism is a collection of biological parts that function together to sustain the existence of the whole being that possesses the qualities of life.

A clump of something is often used to describe something that exists as a loose collection of things that do not interact for the good of the whole. When given time, nutrition, and the proper environment, an organism will mature into a more developed member of its species. But a clump of cells will not.
When the embryo begins to exist, it has a new goal-oriented development (or telos). It now has its own aim in development.  It is no longer like an organ or a part of the woman’s body because parts of the woman’s body participate in the function of the body as a whole. The new human being is a new organism that has its own ends that it develops towards.
It’s parts are working towards the good of its own whole.
My cells are my parts working towards the good of my whole.

This is one of the reasons I refuse to use the term “product of conception” when referring to the unborn. The unborn is clearly a human organism, that is not a part of the woman’s body. Plus, the placenta is technically a product of conception, and we have to distinguish between the unborn human organism and the placenta. It’s possible for the mother to live if the unborn child dies; likewise, it’s possible for the unborn child to live if the mother dies. This could not be so if they were truly one body. Additionally, a Chinese zygote implanted in a Swedish woman will always be Chinese, not Swedish, because his identity is based on his genetic code, not on that of the body in which he resides.

Counter claim: So if the unborn is alive, a human, an organism, and completely dependent upon the mother… wouldn’t it be reasonable to consider the unborn to be a parasite? 

Is the unborn a parasite?

(my voice goes up in pitch during this part of the episode and I have no idea why. lol)

It’s interesting that so many people think that in order to be a distinct entity, the unborn child must be detached from the mother. Yet in the same breath they describe the unborn as a parasite, which is a distinct entity that lives off of the host.
You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s an organism or it’s not.
And clearly it is, as we’ve demonstrated.

Before diving into the science of parasitism, let’s ask a philosophical question.
Is a parasite the kind of entity that has a right to life?
Clearly not. In fact, we do our best to rid ourselves of parasites!

So the argument at this point could go either way.
Either we can rightly classify the unborn as a parasite and therefore it does not have the right to life, or we cannot rightly classify the unborn as a parasite and therefore we cannot kill it without proper justification. If you don’t want to get into the science, ask your interlocutor this question:
Do you agree that every adult human being has the right to not be killed? So do I.
But what exactly is it that makes that right something that all human beings have? It can’t be consciousness, IQ, brain development, or anything else that exists on a gradient. You cannot ground an unchanging right to life on something that exists on a gradient, because that would entail that some people have more of a right to life than others.

So what is it that gives all human beings a right to life?
It is the fact that they are all human.
And if the unborn is human, the unborn must have a right to life.
And therefore the unborn must not be a parasite, because a parasite is something that does not have the right to life.

Perhaps your opponent will remain unconvinced.
No scientific or philosophical backing.
It’s a dehumanizing factor.
Time to bust out the science.

What do we mean by parasite?

Technically it does not have to be a separate species, which is contrary to what a lot of pro-lifers claim. There is something called intraspecific parasitism. One of the more obvious examples is usually referred to as brood parasitism, and birds do it to other birds. Cuckoos will lay their eggs in the nests of other birds (either other cuckoos or another species) and the mother will feed that chick like it’s her own.
Ultimately this is a degree of dependency argument because a parasite is completely dependent upon the host. Arguably, if we can place the fetus in this category, we can also call newborn babies a parasite.

I have a microbiology text sitting in front of me, as well as multiple websites from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the national library of medicine (NLM), and absolutely none of them list the fetus as a parasitic organism. I like this summary of the difference between a parasite and the unborn baby:

A parasite reduces the fitness of its host; a baby increases the fitness of its parents.

There may be a superficial similarity between the baby and a parasite, but when you actually get into the details, those similarities fade away.
If you look at the way a host and parasite typically act, the host is trying to get rid of the parasite by increasing its immunological defenses. The parasite then responds by evolving more complex attacking mechanisms that circumnavigate the host’s immune system. But the relationship between the mother and the baby is intrinsically cooperative. We have even discovered that the unborn child’s stem cells can be used to help heal the mother’s hearts.

Ultimately, it all depends on what the goal of the two organisms is. In a host-parasite relationship, the host’s primary desire is to rid itself of the parasite while the parasite fights off the host’s immune system. In a parent-child relationship, the goal of both is the survival and development of the child. It get a little interesting because of the rH factor, but that is actually considered a misfiring; a mistake. The mother’s body isn’t performing correctly when her immune system attacks the baby.

Alright! I hope you enjoyed this episode!
Don’t forget to share the show with your friends. And if you review the show, I will totally give you a high-five if I see you.

Episode 11 – Is the Unborn Biologically Human?

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iTunes LogoHey guys!
To listen to this episode in a separate window, click here.
Not much of a show notes page for this one, but there are a few links that I want to include:

My post at ThereforeGodExists.com: Is the Unborn a Biological Human Being?

Democrats Adopt National Platform Forcing Americans to Pay for Free Abortions

Texas Observer’s interview with Cecile Richards

Hillary Clinton’s Pro-Abortion Nightmare

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to rate and review the show, and tell your friends 🙂


Episode 9 – Thomson’s Violinist

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cropped-FP_Logo1.pngHey everyone!
New episode on Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist analogy is up and going!
Click here to listen to it in a new window.
The links I discussed during the show can be found after the analysis of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous Violinist analogy. You can find a link to the podcast as a youtube video at the bottom of this post.

The Violinist

In the general category of bodily autonomy arguments, there are at least two sub-categories. The “sovereign zone” and “right to refuse” arguments. In episode 8, I discussed the arguments that fall under the sovereign zone umbrella, which can also be referred to as the “my body, my choice” arguments. This post/episode is going to be on the latter category; the ‘right to refuse’ arguments.

The bodily autonomy arguments essentially say that a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body, all throughout pregnancy. If the woman wants to expel the pregnancy before viability, that’s fine. The termination of pregnancy is the goal; the killing of her unborn offspring is simply a consequence of her acting on her right to bodily autonomy.

As I side note, this seems to be one of the primary reasons that some pro-choice people draw the line at viability. Because if a woman no longer wants to be pregnant and the child can not survive outside of the womb… no harm, no foul (from their perspective). However, if the child can survive outside of the womb, then an abortion would be an act of active killing. This seems strange to me because it is essentially saying that when the child is completely helpless, you can kill him. But when he is almost completely helpless, you can’t.

Not all pro-choice advocates believe this way, and it seems to point towards a bit of an internal struggle within the pro-choice belief structure. If the woman really is entitled to her own body, then why can’t she kill the child before or after viability? Like I said, this is was covered in much more depth during my episode titled Ep 8. Bodily Autonomy.

Without further ado, let’s jump into Thomson’s Violinist.

Thomson’s Violinist

I’d encourage you to read her paper, which includes more than just the violinist analogy. You can find that right here! The paper really isn’t that long, and anyone interested in defending the pro-life case ought to read it.

It is important to note that Thompson isn’t technically making an argument, she’s just giving a counter example by using an analogy. Her purpose in this analogy was to show that if you do not consent to the violinist using your body, you have a right to unplug. In the same way, if you do not consent to the child using your body, you have the right to abort.

I would encourage you to not respond to this analogy by saying “this would never happen” or “this is so unrealistic”. The entire point of a thought experiment is to suspend whether or not it is a realistic situation and analyze the morality and the ethics of the situation. A consistent ethical approach will be revealed by its answers to important questions brought up by thought experiments.

The Good Samaritan Argument

There are some people who say that they simply would not unplug. These same people often say that they would not unplug (because they have a moral obligation to keep the violinist alive if they’re able), but they would not force anyone else to make the same decision. Staying connected is considered a supererogatory act, but it is not something that should be compelled by law.

This is likely where I would fall. I don’t think I would be comfortable disconnecting, knowing that the violinist would die. However, I would never suggest that this should be required by force of government. I touched on this in episode 7 when it comes to forced kidney donations. I think we have a moral obligation to do it, but we ought not have a legal obligation.

If you think about it, saying that you would stay connected to the violinist but wouldn’t force others to do the same is a fairly common pro-choice argument. They say “I would never get an abortion myself, but I simply cannot imagine telling someone that she has to stay pregnant”.

The people making this statement see pregnancy as a supererogatory act; an action that is not required but would really show off someone’s moral fortitude and selflessness. This, however, is precisely where the violinist analogy falls apart when comparing it to pregnancy. This is because the morally relevant parallels are not actually parallel.

What is the difference between the violinist analogy and actual pregnancy?

  1. In the analogy, you are bedridden.
    Statistically speaking, a woman is very rarely bedridden during pregnancy, let alone bedridden for her the entire length of pregnancy. There are certain situations in which a woman will find herself on bed rest (problems with her cervix, preeclampsia, etc), but this doesn’t happen until later in the pregnancy for most. If it does occur earlier in pregnancy, that is due to a preexisting medical condition that is very rare within our society.So, in order for this analogy to be applicable, the pregnant woman must be unable to remove herself from her bed during the entire 10 months of pregnancy.
  1. In the analogy, the person connected to the violinist is not responsible for being connected.
    In the vast majority of cases, the pregnant woman has consented to sex. One of the possible consequences of engaging in sexual intercourse is the creation of a dependent human being.
    We’ll talk more about the ‘responsibility objection’ later, but I’d like to point out that we, as a society, recognize the responsibility objection as legitimate. If you are responsible for causing someone to be in a dependent state, you have an obligation to them that goes beyond the obligation you have to someone else. Even if the other person is in a dependent state but placed into dependency by someone else. The person responsible has a unique obligation. We expect fathers to provide for their children, either by going to work and putting food on the table, or by paying child support. Avoiding that responsibility is socially unacceptable because we recognize the responsibility objection as legitimate.So, in order for the analogy to be parallel, the pregnant woman would have to be a rape victim who subsequently became pregnant, and she must immediately go on bed rest for the entirety of her pregnancy.
  1. In the analogy, the relationship between the violinist and the connected person is that of a stranger.
    In the overwhelming majority of cases, the pregnant woman is carrying her own child. This is even the case when it comes to rape victims. As awful as rape is (and I’m not denying that rape is a horrendous evil), the child being carried by the rape victim is her child, biologically. The only time where a woman bears no biological relationship to the child in her womb is when a woman volunteers her body to be a surrogate for another couple.This is getting a bit strange, don’t you think?
    In order to create a real-life, morally parallel situation to the violinist analogy, we need to have an immediately bedridden woman who was used as a surrogate for someone else’s baby, against her will.

    I don’t know of a single instance where this has happened. But perhaps my knowledge is limited. Or perhaps we can change the violinist analogy so that it becomes more parallel to pregnancy.

Thought experiments can be modified in order to focus on the morally relevant issues at hand. And, for your viewing pleasure, I’d like to introduce…
[Elijiah] Thompson’s violinist:
(Get it cuz Judith doesn’t have a p in her name, and I do? Ha!)
(This analogy is not in the podcast, btw)

Let’s imagine that you’re a stinking jerk and poisoned your violinist cousin, Junrey Balawing. Balawing is the smallest man in the world at under 24 inches tall. He was going to die of a kidney ailment, but your kidneys are able to keep him alive. All you have to do is stay connected to him for 10 months and then you can both go on your merry way. You can carry him around in a backpack. He doesn’t mind.

… now that we’ve changed it, doesn’t it seem as though you have a moral obligation to stay connected to the little dude that you caused to be in his current situation? He is related to you, his existence doesn’t cause you to be bedridden, and you are the jerk who caused him to be dependent. You certainly have an obligation to stay connected so that he doesn’t die.

With that fun little thing out of the way, let’s dive into the more philosophically robust analysis of the violinist analogy.

The Responsibility Objection

In the violinist analogy, the reason the violinist is dependent upon someone else is because of the devious actions of the society of music lovers. Unfortunately, the person chosen to connect to the violinist had nothing to do with the connection. I alluded to this above, but this ‘responsibility objection’ is one of the stronger arguments against the analogy, and gives us a pretty good idea about why the analogy is not morally parallel.

Let’s imagine a slightly modified version of the violinist where I am directly responsible for the violinist to be dependent upon me. Due to the fact that I have a very strange sense of humor or have an insatiable desire to be desperately needed, I do some research and find a famous violinist who has the exact same weird blood type as me (in this analogy, we both share the bombay blood type). I poison him, and then find a hospital and connect myself to him.
I am now directly responsible for his dependent state. The same is true of nearly all pregnancies. So why, if you are responsible for another person’s dependency upon you, are you allowed to kill him/her?

Sex Makes Babies. Duh.

Most people know that sex creates dependent people. If you cause someone to need you, you have an obligation to take care of them. This seems like a rather obvious thing. If you consent to something, you have to take responsibility for the consequences of the decision.

To use an analogy, let’s imagine there is a room. In the room, there is a button with a sign above it saying “press here for 25 – 40 minutes of pleasure. Warning: there is an 8% chance of this machine creating an infant.”
Now if someone walks in, reads the sign, presses the button for pleasure, and a baby is sent down a slide and ends up sitting right next to him. He may argue and say “no, I only consented to having 40 minutes of pleasure! I didn’t consent to this infant!”
You are the one who knew the risks. You are the one who hit the button. You are the one who caused the child to come into existence, so you have a moral obligation to take care of the child. You cannot just leave the child there to die, or kill the child. It is absurd to suggest that you consent to a particular behavior but do not consent to the actions of that behavior.
Again, if you are directly responsible for another person’s dependency upon you, what justification is there for you to kill him/her?

A Child is Not an Intruder

As I stated earlier, pro-choice advocates see staying connected as supererogatory. They also see pregnancy as supererogatory. But are the two examples parallel in the relevant ways? I don’t think so. And that’s because the unborn child is not an intruder, whereas the violinist is an intruder.

In the violinist example, we are using our kidneys to keep the violinist alive. This is an unnatural function of our kidneys; they are not designed to keep another person alive. However, the womb is designed (whether by evolution or by god, whichever) to keep a child alive. The womb, when it is performing its natural function, is preparing for a child or keeping a child alive.
The womb provides food, shelter, medicine,safety, etc
For whom are the kidneys designed?

The fact that we are using our bodies in an unnatural way shows that this analogy is not properly analogous to pregnancy.

Killing and Letting Die

The fatal series of events began before you were connected to the violinist in the analogy. But in abortion, you start the fatal series of events. There may be a moral obligation to someone who is dying, but initiating the fatal series of events on an innocent human being is wrong.

Thomson seems to be ignoring the fact that in abortion, you have a healthy child who is being actively killed. In the analogy, you have someone who is already dying. And this is even more relevant when we’re referring to abortions that are past the point of viability. Partial birth abortions are clear examples of active killing rather than letting die.

As Frank Beckwith says, “Euphemistically calling abortion the ‘withholding of support’ makes about as much sense as calling suffocating someone with a pillow the withdrawing of oxygen”

Fighting Analogies with Analogies

The way that people construct analogies gives the listener a particular perspective on a situation. In the violinist analogy, you are the pregnant woman. In the reverse violinist analogy, you are in the situation of the unborn child.

Imagine you wake up in a hospital and you’re connected to Thomson’s violinist. You decide, ‘you know what? I think it would be nice to stay plugged in, but I can’t stay here for 9 months’. So you unplug, walk out of the hospital, and you start to feel really nauseous and lightheaded. The director of the hospital runs out to you and says “oh my goodness, plug back in or you’ll die!” So you run back into the room, plug back in, and you start feeling better. The director says “I’m terribly sorry, but last night you were kidnapped by the society of musical pranksters. This group of pranksters, of which the violinist is a member, they have a lot of fun together. But they’re pranksters. And because they’re pranksters, every now and then they end up plugged into an innocent person. And when this happens, it destroys the innocent person’s kidneys. But don’t worry. If you stay plugged into the violinist, in 9 months your kidneys will heal and you can go on your way”. And you pass out because this is crazy.

The violinist wakes up, looks at you, and says “hey! This dude doesn’t have the right to use my body without my consent. I’m not going to let him use my kidneys without my permission”. He unplugs from you, walks out of the hospital, and you die of kidney failure. And they toss your body into the hospital incinerator.
Does the violinist, in this case, have the right to unplug from you? Not at all.
The responsibility objection.

The last analogy I want to use is one used by Anthony George called “The Good Samaritan on Life Support”. I read the analogy in the podcsat (around 49 minutes in) but you can read that here.

To summarize it, Chris and Kyle are conjoined twins that want to be separated. Kyle’s body is dependent upon Chris’ body for survival because of the way their bodies are intertwined, but Chris is able to be separated from Kyle without dying.

They go to see some doctors and they recommend that Chris and Kyle stay connected for 9 months, because in order to separate the two, they need to grow some vital organs for Kyle (and it takes 9 months to grow the organs). But Chris is impatient and wants to be free of Kyle immediately. So, he goes to a separatist who does it immediately, and Kyle passes away and his body is thrown into the dumpster.

Has Chris done anything wrong? Of course he has!
He only had to wait 9 months in order to be separated.
However, if the bodily autonomy arguments (as promoted by the pro-choicers and the violinist analogy) are correct, then Chris has done nothing wrong. After all, it was his body, his choice, right? And Kyle had no right to invade upon Chris’ body without his permission.

It is valuable to fight analogies with analogies because it forces us to take a look at the differences and to see which viewpoint can answer the analogies adequately.

Thanks for reading and listening!
I hope both episode 8 & 9 helped to defang the bodily autonomy arguments and the violinist analogy. Please share with both pro-choice and pro-life friends!


Show note links

Theology Mix Podcast Network

Cole’s Development at 39 weeks

Happiest Baby on the Block

Relax Melodies App

Adam4D: “Not Ready”

The Fetal Position: Episode 3

Tactics by Greg Koukl

Life Report: Refuting the ultimate pro-choice argument, Part 1
(part 2)

Life Report: Understanding the ultimate pro-choice argument, Part 1
(Part 2)

Life Report: Violinist Reasoning


Episode 8 – Bodily Autonomy

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iTunes LogoHello! Sorry for the late output of this episode, but hopefully the content of the episode makes up for it! 🙂
Click here to listen to it in a new window!

In this episode, I discuss fetal development at 38 weeks, the organization And Then There Were None, and pro-choice arguments from bodily autonomy. Join me next week for an analysis of Judith Jarvis Thompson’s infamous Violinist. I am trying something new out and making the primary topic of each episode into an actual share-able article. So hopefully you’ll be able to reference what I’ve said on Bodily Autonomy (for this episode) without having to listen to the entire episode.
You can find the links I’ve mentioned at the end of this post.

Bodily Autonomy

One of the most important arguments in the abortion debate is the argument(s) from bodily autonomy. However, I am not convinced that many pro-lifers actually understand bodily rights arguments. And while many pro-choicers use this argument, they may also not understand exactly what they’re saying when they say “my body, my choice”.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that this argument is popular due to it being presented to freshmen in intro to philosophy classes. The students are presented with the strongest arguments and analogies for abortion, yet (conspicuously), any reasonable response (like the one I’m hoping to give) is left out. The students who were moderately pro-choice going into the class come out with a renewed vigor. And the students who were moderately pro-life come out with their tail between their legs or as newly converted pro-choice students.

The initial response I’ve heard from pro-lifers is that the unborn child is not the woman’s body. And this is an ok starting objection, but ultimately the pro-choice advocate probably isn’t suggesting that the unborn child IS the woman’s body. The ‘my body, my choice’ argument is actually saying something more akin to “whatever is going on inside of my body should be my concern, and my concern alone. You have no right to say what I can and cannot do with my body”.

The common thread is that a woman is the sole arbiter of what goes on inside of her body.
The woman views her body as her sovereign zone. And she is sovereign over her own body, and the woman retains the right to expel the child from her body at any point during pregnancy.
If the child dies because viability has not yet been reached, so be it.
If the child is taken out and can survive on a ventilator, so be it.

If I were to put the bodily autonomy (sovereign zone) argument into a syllogism, it would go like this:
1. Abortion is a woman’s choice to do what she wants with her own body.
2. It is permissible to do what you want with your own body.
3. Therefore, abortion is permissible.

We can grant the first premise because it is essentially just describing what elective abortion is. The key here is to look at whether or not the 2nd premise is sound; can you really do whatever you want with your own body? Let’s explore that further.

Is it morally permissible to take medication and deliberately induce birth defects? Thalidomide was a drug that was used to help pregnant women with their morning sickness. However, it also causes major birth defects in the developing child (symptoms like missing limbs, improperly developed organs, etc). I know of no morally sound argument that would make the case that it is ok for a woman to take thalidomide knowing that it will cause birth defects in her unborn child.
In addition to thalidomide, accutane is a drug that is used to treat acne. Doctors will refuse to prescribe accutane to women who are pregnant, and will require proof of birth control usage for women who may become pregnant. This is because accutane, similar to thalidomide, can cause severe birth defects.
Another fairly obvious example of this situation is the use drugs and alcohol while pregnant.

These examples show that there are real world situations where a woman is not allowed, morally or legally, to do whatever she wants to her own body. The pro-choicer may object and say “but causing severe defects is much worse than causing the unborn to die”, and they may have a point. However, that’s not relevant here. By admitting that the woman cannot deliberately cause birth defects, they are admitting that the 2nd premise of the argument (it is permissible to do whatever you want with your own body) is false.

There are a few analogies that can help illustrate this point as well.

Let’s imagine that we have a “test-tube baby” who was conceived in a lab, placed in an incubator, and is now 23-weeks old. Can we kill this child?
Most would say “well, no. You can’t kill the child”.
But let’s take the child and transfer him to a woman. Can we kill the child now? It seems as though the answer must still be no, because of the kind of thing that is being killed. Just because the developing child changes location doesn’t mean that it is suddenly ok to kill the child. However, the bodily autonomy argument would suggest that we ought to be able to kill the child once the child is inside of the woman.

As David Lee says, “The birth canal has now become the new Mason Dixon line”

One final analogy to help illustrate this point is something I’m calling the Snowed In Mother Analogy. Let’s imagine a woman (let’s call her Keres*) who goes on a skiing vacation in Antarctica with a group of fellow hardcore skiing lovers. Perhaps there’s some super awesome radical slopes there. Keres doesn’t realize that she is pregnant until she arrives but she thinks, “that’s fine. No big deal. I’ll just get an abortion in a few weeks when I go home”. However, a major snowstorm hits and strands the skiers in the cabin for a year. Thankfully, they have enough supplies to survive the year (and Chad is really great at hunting elephant seals), but they do not have any medical access, so Keres cannot get an abortion.
Time goes by, and Keres eventually gives birth to a newborn child.
At this point, she refuses to breastfeed the child. After all, she only consented to sex. She didn’t consent to being pregnant. She didn’t consent to giving birth. And she certainly doesn’t consent to letting the child use her breasts for sustenance. It is her body, her choice.
A month after giving birth, the rescuers arrive. They find everyone is good condition (maybe a little sick of being in Antarctica) except for a newborn baby. The baby has died. After asking how the baby passed away, they discover it was because Keres used her bodily autonomy to disallow the child to use her breasts.
Has Keres done anything wrong? Of course she has, and I don’t know of a single person (outside of possibly the Peter Singer types) who would argue that she has done something morally neutral.

Ok! I hope that helped flesh out some of the moral issues surrounding the argument for abortion from bodily autonomy. Obviously there are a lot more details in the actual podcast itself, so please download and listen to that.


Resources mentioned during episode 8:

Cole’s Development at 38 weeks – Baby Center

The Abyss

And Then There Were None
Abby Johnson
Hospital Halts Abortion After Every Single Doctor Refuses to Commit Them

Ep. 7: Forced Kidney Donations (& a peek at the violinist)
Suffer The Violinist

Thanks for listening!
Don’t forget to share with your buds 🙂
– ElijiahT

*Keres is the Greek goddess of death




Episode 7: Forced Kidney Donations (& a peek at the violinist)

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iTunes LogoHi everyone!!
I’ve missed you. Ok, here are the show notes for today!
(click here to listen in a new window)

Pro-Choicer Advocate’s claim:
If a woman can be forced to donate her body during pregnancy, we should be able to force someone to donate their kidney.

It is important to understand that the pro-choice advocate believes that these two situations are morally analogous. They believe that pregnancy is supererogatory in the same way that donating an organ is supererogatory. We have to ask the question, what is the morally relevant difference between organ donation and abortion?
It seems to me that this is just a confusion about how rights work.
If we kill an unborn human being, we are violating their right to life (as well as other rights, like bodily autonomy). If you refuse to donate blood or organs, you’re not violating anyone else’s rights. However, taking an organ from you without your consent is a clear violation of your rights.
In using this analogy, the pro-choice advocate wants us to conclude that it is legitimate to violate another human being’s right to life because you will not allow someone else to violate your rights. Is it really a violation of a woman’s rights to suggest that she ought to continue a pregnancy? Check out the episode 8 on bodily autonomy and episode 9 on the violinist.


My grandmother’s obituary in the Buffalo News (including unborn Cole)

Libertarian Party nominates Gary Johnson (Johnson is pro-choice)

Cole’ development 36 weeks & 37 weeks

New Wave Feminists (instagram)

The Violinist Argument from Judith Jarvis Thompson

bonus: a great, short article on the violinist argument from StR called “Unstringing the Violinist

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