Pro-Life Position Entails Organ Donation

If someone holds that a woman is morally obligated to see a pregnancy through in spite of the imposition on her body, the inconvenience, pain, risk, and loss of autonomy, then they apparently hold the following principles: The autonomy of a person to choose what to do with his or her own body does not contravene the obligation to act to save another. Your body is not your own when another’s life is at stake.

So at the very least, someone holding the pro-life position should donate blood regularly. They should sign up to be available to give bone marrow. They should volunteer to  be a living kidney donor, and to be a living liver donor (that is, to donate these organs while still alive, as opposed to agreeing to donate organs after death.) While these procedures involve some risk, pain and inconvenience, that cannot, on the pro-life principles, be grounds for not accepting them.

Again, this is mere consistency with their basic position: that my body is not my own when it can support another life. That I am obligated to undergo a certain amount of paint, inconvenience, and loss of bodily autonomy if doing so will allow another to live.

It’s been claimed that some strong vegetarian positions entail an anti-abortion position (“On the consistent application of moral consideration,” Justin Caouette and David Boutland, presented at Society for Applied Philosophy annual conference 2014). I question whether vegetarian dedication to preserving animal life and abortion are really analogous, since the vegetarian can consistently hold that bodily autonomy contravenes duty to preserve life: they might hold that one does not have to preserve a life if it is inside of one’s own body, or if it severely limits one’s autonomy. But Caouette and Boutland do have a strong point about maintaining consistency of moral principles, and it may not be possible to spell out a strong pro-life/anti-abortion position that doesn’t entail giving up bodily autonomy to save another’s life. Since that would include live organ donation, the pro-lifer should feel obliged to go to organ donor and bone marrow donor registries. Some information can be found here:

Information on living kidney donation

The bone marrow registry

Donating blood

Living donors on-line: information on living donation of livers, kidneys, and other biological materials

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One response to “Pro-Life Position Entails Organ Donation

  1. Hi,
    Great article, I hadn’t considered this before.
    I would disagree with the fact that pro-lifers have the same moral obligation to a stranger than to their own child. For example, if I had children, I would feel responsible for feeding and clothing her, but I wouldn’t feel responsible for feeding and clothing my neighbor’s children

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