The Unethicist: Nobody Puts Baby in the Dumpster

"The Ethicist" is Randy Cohen's long-running advice column in the New York Times. Each week, Gabriel Delahaye's "The Unethicist" will answer the same questions as "The Ethicist," with obvious differences.

My ob-gyn phoned, urging my support for a ballot measure requiring parental notification for teenage girls seeking abortions. I subsequently received calls from two antiabortion organizations asking me to support the measure. I suspect that my doctor gave them my number. Is that legal of her? Ethical? Kristin Fidler, Portland, Ore.

Man, I would have loved to have been listening in on that first phone call. "Hey, Kristin, it's your obg-yn here. Listen, I was just looking at these important notes I'd taken about your vagina, and it got me thinking: when teenage girls get pregnant they should have to tell their parents, you know, like by law. That way the parents could construct a time machine and go back to just before Cheryl let Rod fuck her in the back of his dad's Celica and have him murdered. Or, if they're poor, they could just traumatize their child with whatever kind of promise of eternal damnation their particular brand of fundamentalist Christianity assures them is in store for anyone with functional genitalia and a brain. Seeing as I know you intimately, what with all the time I've spent examining your vagina, I thought you might feel the same way on this issue. Can I count on you, girlfriend?"

The ideal course of action would be the classic ding-dong-ditch where you put a fetus in a paper bag on her porch, ring the doorbell, set the bag on fire, and then run away. The look on that woman's face when she gets fetus all over her brand new pumps from DSW would be priceless. But where are you going to get a fetus? In January?

No, I think your best bet is to put her phone number up for auction on eBay. That shit is hilarious.

My partner and I sell T-shirts via the Internet that we print with short slogans — some we thought up ourselves, others we found on Web sites of quotations. Occasionally we get angry letters from people who claim to have devised one of these slogans. Our intellectual-property lawyer says we have no legal obligation to compensate these people, but is there an ethical obligation to do so? Mark Mackaman, Redmond, Wash.

Oh, YUCK. This is why I wish that it were somehow possible to burn the internet to the ground. It would be like that scene in Badlands where Kit and Holly have murdered Holly's father and then doused the house in gasoline. And as they walk off into what will become a cross-country manhunt, the house in flames behind them, they don't necessarily know where they're going to go or what they're going to do, they just know that the internet can't hurt them anymore.

I honestly don't know what's worse, that you sell "Vote for Pedro" t-shirts on the internet, or that you do it with "your partner." And while I'm sure that you came up with "I'm Not As Think As You Drunk I Am" and "Funkin Gonuts" all on your own, I genuinely hope that someone brings a lawsuit against you that is so financially devastating that your partner abandons you and you start drinking heavily, eventually severing all personal ties and living on the streets. Then one day I will be walking down the street and see a bum wearing a shirt that says "I Used to Sell T-Shirts on the Internet With My Partner, But Then We Were Financially Ruined, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt," and I'll point you out to Scarlett — because when this happens I will be with Scarlett Johansson — and be like "Ew, look at that gay bum." And then Scarlett will be all, like, "Ew, I know." And then we'll do it.

Earlier: Well, This Year Is Clearly Going to Suck