I rarely frequent the Huffington Post, and now I remember why. I knew this argument was going to eventually come from the left. Jacob M. Appel, a bioethicist who recently taught at Brown University in Providence, RI, wonders if we are ready for a market in fetal organs. Forget just doing ESCR to find cures – why stop there? Let’s go whole hog and farm fetuses for our benefit! He writes:
The first striking feature of fetal organs is that their supply, for all practical purposes, is unlimited. Unlike living kidney donors, who must then advance through life with only one functioning kidney, pregnant women who provide fetal kidneys could do so repeatedly without incurring the medical consequences of adult organ loss. When overseen by properly-trained physicians, abortion is an extremely safe procedure — even safer than delivering an infant at term. Since far more women have legal abortions each year in the United States than would be required to clear organ wait-lists, if only a small percentage of those women could be persuaded to carry their fetuses to the necessary point of development for transplantation, society might realize significant public health benefits. The government could even step into the marketplace itself to purchase fetal organs for patients on Medicare and Medicaid, ensuring that low-income individuals had equal access to such organs while keeping the "asking price" elevated.
Opponents of reproductive choice will object to such a market on the grounds that it will increase the number of abortions — which will indeed be the logical result. However, such a market might also bring solace to women who have already decided upon abortion, but desire that some additional social good come from the procedure. Like the families of accident victims who donate the organs of their loved ones, these women could well find their decisions fortified by the public benefit that they generate. An additional economic incentive would further assuage any doubts, and might even make the procedure more palatable to otherwise equivocal spouses or partners. Of course, those who believe that life begins at conception will never find such a market desirable. But for those of us, myself included, who sincerely believe that human life begins far later in the growth process, I believe that we have a moral duty to women to give due consideration to the legalization of such a fetal-organ trade. Society should not curtail a woman’s economic liberty without a compelling reason any more than it should curtail her reproductive liberty.
This is the slippery slope of ESCR, and this is where we are headed when we trump life with “choice” and “reproductive liberty.” It may seem far-fetched, but this is proof that some think it’s a good idea.
Update (3/20/09): Angel, yep some in this country have lost their minds. Thanks for the link!