There was a rather long thread on one of my forums, since locked, and I wanted to see what you guys had to say about it.
Here’s the post in a nutshell: a woman is asked to be screened to donate bone marrow to a relative, but in the past this relative has bullied her and been mean to her. The woman decides that she does not want to donate to someone who’s been that wicked to her, as she doesn’t feel it’s right that they’re treating her like a spare parts factory. In other words, she’s only worth anything to them inasmuch as she’s useful.
My first thought was, it depends on how “mean” the relative was. There’s a difference between “You always laughed at my clothes” and “You bilked Grandma out of her estate so she died penniless.”
My next thought was, Don’t we have a responsibility to save a life if possible?
And then I thought, Donating bone marrow is an “extraordinary measure,” and we’re not required to take extraordinary measures to prolong a life (ie, we’re not required to intubate a patient or perform invasive surgery, but the Catholic Church does require hydration because drinking is an “ordinary measure.”) So maybe there’s not actually a moral imperative to save a life if it requires extraordinary action.
And then I thought, But what life-saving effort wouldn’t require extraordinary action?
I could go round and round for hours, but I’m wondering what you guys think. If it affects your opinion, bone-marrow donation is no longer invasive and painful; it requires taking drugs to stimulate cell production, and the process of removing those cells is via filtration, like a long blood transfusion done two or three times over several days. You might be achey as if with the flu, but not usually worse. No drills involved.
And how low down the scale do you go? What if you only had to pay a hundred dollars to save your enemy’s life? How much benefit does the person have to reap: six more months? Five years? And how irritating is a person allowed to be before you decide the pain of saving the person’s life is only going to prolong the pain of having to deal with that person?
Where in all this do we become little gods, dealing out life and death based on the worthiness of the recipient? And really, do some lives not require saving? Or conversely, should we make an extra effort to save a soul who truly isn’t ready to face God?
Answer in the comments box or on your own blog. I’d like a wide range of moral/religious/social views because this whole thing seems rather tricky.