(LifeSiteNews) — A Norwegian academic has suggested using the bodies of women declared ‘brain-dead’ to grow unborn babies.
“Whole body gestational donation offers an alternative means of gestation for prospective parents who wish to have children but cannot, or prefer not to, gestate,” wrote Anna Smajdor, a professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the University of Oslo.
Her article, titled “Whole body gestational donation,”was published in the Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics journal late last year.
Smajdor argues that using women who have been declared “brainstem dead” as hosts to carry a child to term could be a viable and ethical option in the future.
“We already know that pregnancies can be successfully carried to term in brain-dead women,” the Norwegian professor stated. “There is no obvious medical reason why initiating such pregnancies would not be possible.”
WBGD is the logical consequence of today’s organ harvesting practice
In her article, Smajdor discussed ethical concerns that may arise regarding what she calls “Whole Body Gestational Donation” (WBGD). She argues that if one accepts the modern practice of organ donation from brain-dead humans, then WBGD represents only a “difference in degree” to that practice.
“WBGD involves treating the patient’s dead body as a means to an end, rather than as an end in itself,” the ethics professor stated. “The patient moves from being the focus of medical concern, to being a repository of tissues that can be used to benefit others.”
“Yet this is already a part of our organ donation process,” she continued. “Organ donors are almost invariably patients who are already being ventilated, as part of their medical treatment. If the patient is deemed to be a suitable organ donor, ventilation will be continued along with other interventions to ensure that the organs will be maintained for transplant in optimal condition.”
Smajdor concludes that “if we regard WBGD as being clearly outrageous, this suggests we have some uncomfortable questions to answer about the future of cadaveric organ donation.”
There are indeed major moral problems with the practice of organ donation, as LifeSiteNews journalists have reported for years. Thus, Smajdor correctly draws a logical connection between her WBGD idea and organ donations.
The problem with the practice of organ donation and organ harvesting is that the prerequisite that someone’s organs can be removed is that the person is declared “brain-dead.” However, someone who is declared brain-dead could arguably still be alive, since she may still have a normal pulse and blood pressure, digest food, and display other signs of life. Pregnant “brain-dead” women might even carry a baby to term, as Smajdor herself points out.
READ: Re-examining ‘brain death’: Doctors may be harvesting organs before donors are dead
Moreover, there are multiple cases of people regaining consciousness after being declared brain dead.
A drawback to organ harvesting is that if all bodily functions have ceased and a person is truly dead, and not simply declared brain-dead, the deceased person’s organs will already have begun to deteriorate and are therefore not useable as transplants anymore.
It is highly questionable that a brain-dead woman who can still carry a living human being to term and displays other signs of life is truly dead. Organ harvesting, as well as Smajdor’s suggestions of WBGD, is therefore performed on people who are arguably still alive and would have a chance to recover, however unlikely it might be.
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READ: Bioethicists warn new organ donation protocol blurs line between life and death
In a cynical remark, Smajdor points out that since we consider organ donors “dead enough” to harvest their organs, “we should have no objections to WBGD on these grounds.”
Even if organ donation and WBGD require prior consent, patients or their legal guardians could be pressured by doctors to give it, told that they would be giving up their “dead” body “for a good cause” and to help others. In some countries, like Canada, for instance, people can even be pressured into killing themselves via legal euthanasia in order to harvest their organs. Potentially Canadian women might be pressured into donating their whole body in the case of WBGD.
READ: Liberal euthanasia laws make Canada the world leader in organs harvested from assisted-suicide victims
New concept of surrogacy would result in many killings
WBGD would in many ways be much worse and dystopian than organ harvesting, as Smajdon’s explanations show. Attempts to use brain-dead women as surrogates would lead to many botched attempts, meaning that many embryos, i.e. human beings, would be killed in the process. The Norwegian professor explains the issue as follows:
In jurisdictions that already permit embryo research, it is clear that some experiments on implantation and development up to 14 days might be permissible. Within the existing infrastructure of these jurisdictions, there seems little reason why preliminary experimentation should not go ahead. However, moving from experimental procedures designed to end in the destruction of the embryo at 14 days, to experiments that affect later stage foetuses, or which might be designed to result in the birth of live offspring, may be contentious. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that in recent years, the 14-day rule has started to come under some pressure both from scientists and ethicists who believe there should be a longer period during which research is permissible.
Smajdon’s horrifying vision targets not only unborn children in the embryonic stage for planned destruction. She argues that even late-term abortion would be viable with WBGD since the woman carrying the baby to term is “dead” anyway and would therefore not suffer any negative consequences. Smajdon seems to have no regard for the negative consequences to the unborn child, even in later developmental stages:
Legal grounds for abortion generally include impairments or diseases affecting the foetus. Thus, with very close surveillance, it is reasonable to think that–if foetuses are severely damaged by unexpected factors arising from brain-dead gestation–this need not result in the birth of severely damaged babies. Rather, it could result in the termination of the process at the discretion of the commissioning parents. Abortion, especially late term abortion, can be traumatic for gestating women both emotionally and physically. However, in the case of WBGD, the gestating woman is already dead and cannot be harmed. Commissioning parents may decide on abortion or selective reduction in accordance with their own wishes, without having to worry about the effects on the gestating donor.
The Norwegian professor points out the horrendous rules and practices in “fertility medicine,” including IVF (in vitro fertilization), that are already in place and uses them as a justification for her WBGD vision.
READ: In vitro fertilization is an evil industry built on selling false hope to desperate women
“Given that we already treat fertility medicine as an arena in which embryos and foetuses may be damaged or deliberately destroyed, it is not clear that the admitted uncertainties involved in WBGD are such as to force us to repudiate the whole endeavour,” she stated.
“Parents may transfer as many embryos as they can generate, maximising the chances of at least one viable birth, and if necessary, discarding any damaged or diseased ones in advance. Again, pointing out these possibilities may sound ugly, but they are processes that are routine in fertility medicine across the globe.”
Attacking natural pregnancy and motherhood
Smajdon’s vision becomes even more disturbing, as she argues not only that couples who struggle with infertility should consider WBGD, but that surrogacy of brain-dead women should replace natural pregnancy altogether, since carrying a child to term has health risks. Smajdon is therefore attacking natural pregnancy and motherhood itself.
“… [P]regnancy itself should properly speaking be medically contra-indicated for women generally,” she stated, adding that “[w]e cannot yet forego the uterus altogether for the reproduction of our species. But we can transfer the risks of gestation to those who are no longer able to be harmed by them.”
The article by the Norwegian professor paints a dystopian picture of the future that may or may not become a reality. However, it also highlights the horrific practices of organ harvesting, surrogacy, abortion, and “reproductive medicine” already realities in many places around the world today.