Thursday, March 09, 2006

Your body is ours

It is 2009, and President Hilary Clinton has worked with the new Democratic majority in Congress to pass two startling new laws.

First, forced sterilization will be required of everyone who has the gene for Huntington's Disease. Huntington's Disease is passed on through a dominant gene, so every child from a parent with this gene has a 50% chance of acquiring the illness. Sterilization will mean the swift eradication of this disease in America, since it is uniformly fatal: : most patients are dead by 40 most patients are dead 10 to 25 years after it is first diagnosed, which is typically from ages 30 to 40.

Second, national registration of organ donors will be required of every adult U.S. Citizen. Further, if a six-point match can be made between potential kidney recipients and donors, then the donors who meet certain health criteria will be required to donate one of their kidneys.

These laws are somewhat arbitrary, but they serve clear state interests. People afflicted by Huntington's Disease have greatly shortened lives, and they require extensive medical care in their final years. A society without Huntington's would be more productive by any economic measure you choose, and families would not suffer the emotional devastation of seeing their afflicted members suffer. Sterilization isn't murder: they just won't reproduce.

As to the second law, in 2006, there were 65,626 people in need of kidneys, by far the largest group of people needing new organs. There simply aren't enough potential donors from accidents and natural deaths. However, there are only a few complications from living with one kidney, so the vast majority of donors would be only slightly inconvenienced. This law would restore health to tens of thousands of kidney patients, reducing national costs from dialysis and from the early death of recipients who never obtain a match. This law would inconvenience only 65,000 people at first, then it would quickly reach maintenance levels. Economically, it's a no-brainer.

You may object to these laws. You might believe that the government has no right to reach into your body and snip the tubes that would permit you to have children, or to take one of your kidneys. And perhaps you don't want Hilary Clinton's octopus-like government to be allowed to even pass these kinds of laws. You might even bring up that word: unconstitutional.

But, did you protest, back in 2006, when Roe v. Wade was starting to be overturned? Did you not see then that if a government could require a 13-year-old girl to have a child despite the wishes of her and her parents, if it could require a mother to give birth to an anencephalic fetus, if it could define that life begins at conception, then the government was actually claiming a much more expansive right than just control over abortion? If the right of privacy doesn't extend to the body, if it can be sneeringly referred to as an indefensible argument, an imaginary right of privacy found nowhere in a constitution that has clause after clause implicitly referring to the right to be left alone, then the state will do whatever it feels like doing with your body.

People need to stand up for Roe, now. It's being attacked in several states right now:
  • Mississippi — complete ban of abortion advanced to law, awaits Governor's signature.
  • Iowa — murder definition extended to include "any stage of human development"
  • Indiana — bans abortion, few exemptions
  • Kentucky — bans abortion, only health of mother exemption
  • Oklahoma — bans abortion, only health of mother exemption
  • West Virginia — total ban of abortion, no exemptions at all
  • Georgia — total ban of abortion and most contraceptives, no exemptions at all.
  • Tennessee — total ban of abortion and most contraceptives, no exemptions at all.
(NB: see Alan Guttmacher Institute for swell stats and charts on abortion.) Some of these bills, especially in TN are old, so that would dial down the chicken-little factor somewhat.

South Dakota was just the first state. Every single politician who acts against Roe needs to be voted out of office. Every single one. If you live in one of these states, you must know exactly how your state representative will vote, and you must kick their ass soonest if they are not pro-choice.

There is a thoughtful essay on pregnancy and abortion at the Bioethics forum, and the good people at Lawyers, Guns and Money have posted several articles on abortion recently.

(For the counterfactually impaired, I would be wildly against both laws, and, while Senator Clinton is not my favorite person in the Democratic party, by far, she would get my vote for President.)

Updated: for clarity.
Updated: to correct incorrect statement that Huntington's Disease patients die by age 40.


Anonymous wrd said...

Support stem-cell research. Who knows, maybe in the next twenty years or so we'll figure out a way to grow our own replacement parts. In the meantime, sign your donor card!

Support Universal Healthcare. Many people do not understand the concept of shared effort (cost, etc), a key ingredient for efficiently solving large (and in this case, common) problems. All gvt programs are not bad; UHC can work if we want it to.

Friday, 10 March, 2006  
Blogger Kelley Bell said...

Here is a link with video coverage of the Day of Solidarity Protest in Ohio.

Abortion Protest Link

Sunday, 12 March, 2006  
Blogger Angela_F said...

Most people with HD die by the age of 40? That's not true. Some people are only just starting to show symptoms at that age.

My grandma had huntington's and she died at 80. My mum, uncle and aunt all have huntington's - all are in their 50s and all are only at the beginning of the disease's progress. From the information I have read, I don't think we're a freaky family (well not in this respect at least).


Tuesday, 23 May, 2006  
Blogger travis said...

I have corrected the error in the text. I am so terribly sorry for your family's misfortune.

Tuesday, 23 May, 2006  

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