Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

If This Doesn’t Chill You…

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 by Tom Gilson

Don’t read this if you’re about to have a meal. You may not be able to stomach it.

Presented in all seriousness at the Huffington Post: Jacob M. Appel: Are We Ready for a Market in Fetal Organs?

Someday, if we are fortunate, scientific research may make possible farms of artificial “wombs” breeding fetuses for their organs — or even the “miracle” of men raising fetuses in their abdomens. That day remains far off. However, the prospect of fetal-adult organ transplantation is a much more realistic near-term possibility. A market in such organs might benefit both society and the women who choose to take advantage of it.

via Touchstone Mere Comments

11 Responses to “ If This Doesn’t Chill You… ”

  1. Vicki Henry says:

    DISTURBING but not surprising

  2. david ellis says:

    We already have plenty of viable organs. We just need to get people to sign to be organ donors should they die. I’ve never understood why so many people are so pointlessly selfish as to not do so.

    If every Christian in this country did so, they making up 75% or more of the nation, we’d have no organ shortage. Perhaps preachers should speak more on such important social issues.

    Alternately, since so few are becoming organ donors out of altruism, I would support the idea of paying people to sign up to become organ donors (and I’m not saying pay them to donate an organ while alive—that would exploit those in poverty). I’m not sure what amount would be necessary to overcome the organ shortage but I’m sure it would save a massive amount on things like dialysis and would therefore be a financial savings as well as overcoming the organ shortage problem.

  3. Dave says:

    Oh david ellis, you’re such a moralist.

  4. Pete says:

    David Ellis makes a great point. Becoming an organ donor is easy. In many states it can be done online:

  5. Pete says:

    As simple as it is, we’d have a lot more donors if states would only change their donor registration procedures: instead of making those who renew their driver’s licenses place a check mark in order to become an organ donor, let them rather place a check mark in order to opt out of organ donation.

  6. As far as organ donation is concerned, one big problem is that it seems the definition of “death” is not necessarily death as we traditionally understand it, but has been adjusted to make organ donation more feasible (similar to adjusting the definition of conception so that contraceptives that prevent implantation don’t count as abortifacient). People now medically certified as “dead” may not really be dead. Alan Shewmon, M.D., has written and spoken much on this.

    On the topic of the post, we’re already trafficking in fetal body parts, not for organ donation, but for experimentation (here‘s the price list from a few years back). This is one major source of revenue for abortionists, and on reason they want to keep late-term abortion legal (more money for more developed parts).

    Of course if it would be particularly grisly (“vampiric”) if women specifically carried children specifically for their organs to be harvested for use by the already-born. But on the other hand, the distaste for this line of thinking may be widespread enough to figure as an effective argument against abortion.


  7. david ellis says:

    People now medically certified as “dead” may not really be dead.

    There is, among many (and I’m not saying this is your point, that wasn’t clearly the case—only that it brings this issue to mind), a paranoid fear that medical professionals won’t work hard enough to revive a patient if he’s an organ donor. Its one of the most common objections I’ve heard to becoming one.

    Of course, one can’t claim such a thing is IMPOSSIBLE. But its sufficiently unlikely that to refrain from becoming an organ donor on such a basis is an incredible act of selfishness. As for myself, I’m more than willing to take this negligible risk for the sake of people waiting for an organ.

  8. david ellis says:

    I’d also like to ask, of those who aren’t organ donors, why you’ve chosen not to be one?

  9. Tom Gilson says:

    Interesting direction this is taking—but what do you think of the proposal to market fetus parts?

  10. david ellis says:

    I find the idea of a market in fetal organs repulsive. My position on abortion has always been that a fetus should be regarded as a person once it has a brain and fetal organs would not be useful until long after the point I consider personhood to have begun.

    In addition it would almost inevitably exploit women in poverty.

    I’m curious as to whether there’s any indication this is being seriously considered. I’ve not heard of it before and find it hard to believe there’s much chance of it being put into practice.

    Regardless, I encourage all to sign the back of their license to indicate they want to be an organ donor and let their family know (and get the necessary witness signatures).

    I wonder whether this article might have been intended in the spirit of Jonathan Swift’s A MODEST PROPOSAL:

    I certainly hope so.

  11. Pete says:

    I completely agree that human organ transactions illustrate an important limitation of free markets. Because of certain ideologies of recent decades, there’s probably been too little reflection upon the question of how morality should constrain markets.

    Generally, pro-lifers ought to think carefully about the institutionalized financial incentives for having an abortion. Consider, for example, the costs of childbirth associated with the current state of health care insurance:

    “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005 45.8 million Americans do not have health insurance. If this figure includes you, you can anticipate an average hospital bill of $5,000-$10,000 for a vaginal delivery. Add at least $2,000 if you need a c-section. These figures do not include the medical costs associated with nine months of prenatal visits, ultrasound costs and other lab costs. If your baby is born premature or with health problems, neonatal costs can range from a few thousand for a short stay to more than $200,000 if you baby is born more than 15 weeks early.

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