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February 26, 2013


This position isn't actually new. Judith Jarvis Thompson endorsed this kind of argument decades ago with her famous violinist analogy.

If you find yourself connected to a violinist with a kidney disorder that requires that he use your kidneys as a dialysis machine for 9 months (after which both you and he will be perfectly healthy) are you allowed to disconnect yourself? Even knowing that if you did so the violinist would die?

It is not in dispute by anyone that the violinist is a full-blown human person. You are not even required to assume that the violinist is somehow a less worthy person. So Thompson's argument actually goes well beyond the argument that Williams proposes.

For all that, there still seems to be some intuitive pull to the idea that you should be allowed to disconnect.

In the end, I don't buy Thompson's argument. But it is not simply answered by the SLED test.

"A life worth sacrificing"

I wonder how William's will react to the idea that girls, specifically unborn, but quite often neo-nates in some parts of the world are also considered lives worth sacrificing.

Once she decides that society can decide which life is worth sacrificing without also deciding on what basis, then it is a matter of time before those who control the media and who wield power can decide to their whim which life is worth sacrificing.

At that point, in Malcolm Muggeridge's famous words, we would have completed our education to imbecility and circled back to barbaric existence.

It seems to me that Williams' view is that the basis for determining "justifiable homocide" is at best arbitrary. Clearly, the shift on the pro-choice side has occured because they admit they have lost the debate on medical/scientific claims thanks to ultrasound. If you accept the premise in the article, "After-birth Abortion - Should the Baby Live?", published in the Journal of Medical Ethics a year ago, that there is essentially no distinction between the unborn and the born, then Williams' view, must logically include the right to justifiable homocide of newly born children for the same arbitrary reasons.

As such, as J. Warner argues, it seems to me that we need to move to the scriptures from just moral and philosphical reasoning to advance the doctrine that all human life is made in the image of God if we are going to persuade the likes of Mary Elizabeth Williams.

At the core of the pro-choice argument is: "I want and the ends of what I want justify any means necessary to get them and let reason be twisted into a pretzel along the way." Now there is a goal oriented attitude that refuses failure as an option. That is exactly the kind of attitude necessary to be successful in American culture and it is encouraged to flourish by those who admire and look up to successful folks everywhere. It has now been conscripted to serve the cause of abortion. The more you encourage something, the more you have of it and after a while, it creeps into every corner of society.

I guess it's amazing to me that people would treat human life in such a cavalier manner. However, like J. Warner Wallace posits, "Justifiable Homicide" appears to be their new approach. In taking this approach, I believe pro-abortionists are redefining the meaning of 'justifiable homicide'.

The violinist example only worked if you caused the violinist's condition, hooked him to you, and intentionally removed all options for survival except being attached to you, and then decided you didn't want to stay attached and pulled the connection.


If by 'works best' you mean best conveys the author's intentions, then I think the violinist example works best when you don't cause the violinist's condition or the fact that he's hooked up to your kidneys. This is the case analogous to pregnancy by rape. And it is the case where you definitely have the most intuitive force for the idea that you have a right to unhook yourself even though the violinist is fully human and it will kill him.

Thompson goes so far as to say that she doesn't think you have a right to anything if you don't have a right to unhook under those circumstances.

The fact that there are no options for the violinist's survival other than being attached to your kidneys closely mirrors the facts about pregnancy. The baby has no chance for survival unless it is attached to the mother.

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