Can the State Require You to Risk Your Life?

Setting aside the issue of first responders, the military, and even conscription into the military forces, when is it just and moral for the state to require a citizen to take an action that places their very life in jeopardy?

Very simply the state requires you to do action X and that action carries a low probability of, say one in six thousand, of causing you to die. If you do not perform action X the state will imprison you, fine you, and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system down on you.

It would seems to me that this sort of thing should be considered immoral and an action of an out of control government, The right to your own life has to be the basis for all other rights.

I have heard people argue it would not be immoral for the state to do this in order to save another life. That does not persuade me. Let’s consider this is a political context.

Pelosi or Cruz, whichever politician is your personal political devil, is in dire need of a new kidney. Pelosi/Cruz will die without the new kidney and the state has determined that one of yours is the very best match. Under the threat of fines and imprisonment you are orders to under go surgery and surrender a kidney to the desperate Pelosi/Cruz, but it carries that 1-in-6000 when you go under you will never wake back up. Do you have the right to tell the state to stuff it? That it’s too bad about Pelosi/Cruz but this is something you do not want to do. I say yeah, that is your moral right.

This fantastic scenario occurred to me because I have the tendency to place myself in other people’s shoes. I am constantly watching my Facebook feeds and thinking about what if I were in someone else life, what would that be like? It is part of what makes me a writer. A number of my friends are mothers and I considered the courage of pregnancy. In the United States about 1 in 5,500 pregnancies end with the death of the mother. That’s a terrible and frightened statistic, one that makes me doubt, pain of childbirth aside, if I would have the courage to follow one through to term.

And you can see where that thought trail led.

Laws prohibiting abortion force a woman to risk her life. Plain and simple that state is forcing a citizen to engage in an action that can very well kill them.

I am sure I am not the first person to ponder this aspect, but is has strengthened by pro-choice stand.