Friday, September 26, 2014

Is Pregnancy Like Forced Organ Donation?

The idea that forced organ donation and pregnancy are analogous has been around a long time. The pro-aborts even seem to think it's a "gotcha question." Their argument goes something like this:

Suppose you have a father who has a child who is dying and needs a kidney, and the father has a compatible kidney. Should the father be forced to give the child a kidney to save the child's life? Should the right to life of the child take precedence over the right to bodily autonomy of the father? If no father can be forced to give up an organ for his child, that means the right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life of the child. If that is true, then a mother's right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life of her unborn child and she has a right to abort.
At first glance, this is a powerful argument. Most of us instinctively recoil at the idea of being forced to donate an organ and don't think government should be forcing us to do so. We know that volunteering to donate an organ is a noble and praiseworthy act, but don't think anyone should be forced to give an organ against their will. The pro-aborts want us to see pregnancy in this way as well. They want us to see continuing a pregnancy as a noble and selfless act, but one that should not be forced on anyone.

Unfortunately for the pro-aborts, pregnancy and organ donation are dissimilar in several key ways, and thus their argument fails.
Most importantly, pregnancy is not like forced organ donation because consent to sex is consent to pregnancy. When a woman engages in sex, she consents to caring for any child that is created through her actions.  See this post for more on this argument. Because consent to sex is consent to pregnancy, pregnancy, in the vast majority of cases, would be akin to voluntary organ donation, not forced organ donation.

Of course, there are several other reasons that pregnancy is not like organ donation (even voluntary organ donation) which also negate the analogy.

In the case of organ donation, the donated organ is permanently removed from the donor's body so that the donor then lacks the function of that organ for the rest of his life. In pregnancy, this is not the case. The growing unborn child does not consume any organ of the mother or otherwise remove it from her body. In fact, rather than removing a body part and preventing its function, pregnancy involves using an organ (the womb) as it was designed to be used.

So on the one hand, we have permanently diminished body functioning and loss of an organ and on the other we have a temporary condition in which an organ is simply used as it is meant to be used. They are not the same thing at all.

In addition to that profound difference, organ donation always, and by design, puts the donor at risk for serious future health problems. Apart from the risks of the surgery itself, lacking a kidney means that the filtering of the blood will be less efficient and that any future kidney failure will leave the donor in a position where they have no working kidney remaining. Pregnancy, by contrast, in its normal case, does not leave the woman at risk for serious health problems. While it is certainly true that some women have increased health risks during or because of pregnancy, this is not the norm and these cases should be dealt with separately. It is not the case that pregnancy inherently and unavoidably produces a decline in body functioning as donating a kidney does.

Yet another dissimilarity is that a father with a sick child did not cause his child to be in need of a kidney. If the father had beaten his child until his kidney failed, making him the one responsible for the child's need for a kidney, then the father would have the responsibility to make amends by giving his kidney to the child. However, this is almost never the case. The kidney failure of the child is not the fault of the father.  In pregnancy, on the other hand, the mother's actions in choosing to engage in sex caused the child to be created in such a situation that he needs the care of her womb. She is the reason for his need and should be expected to fulfill her responsibility to meet that need.

Not only are pro-aborts incorrectly claiming that pregnancy and organ donation are similar, but they are also, by implication, claiming that abortion is like refusing to donate a kidney. Their claim is that just as a person has every right to refuse to donate an organ from their body, they also have a right to "terminate a pregnancy" by abortion. But abortion is not analogous to refusing to donate a kidney. Abortion is not simply refusing to continue a pregnancy. The intent of an abortion is to purposely kill a pre-born child. A parent who does not donate a kidney to their dying child is not doing so out of a motive to kill. An abortion, on the other hand, is not simply allowing an unborn child to die of natural causes, but is an active act of killing. The death of the child is not a by-product but the entire point of an abortion.

Because of these many fatal flaws, the analogy of forced organ donation and pregnancy fails. It is not the same thing to force a parent to give up a kidney for their dying child as to "force" a woman to continue a pregnancy rather than kill her child through abortion. Abortion is not like refusing to donate a kidney. There is no logical or ethical requirement that a parent go to the extraordinary lengths of giving up a piece of their body for a sick child. Parents have a responsibility to provide normal care for their children, but not to take extreme measures or place themselves in danger. There is, however, a logical and ethical requirement that a woman who chooses to engage in an act that creates a child should be expected to provide normal care for that child - which includes a normal, healthy pregnancy.

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