Not to get political in the sense of trying to change people’s minds, I want to see what people think about the issue of the right to life of the unborn – reframed as a transplant problem.
In Ireland, it’s always a debated issue as Ireland has very conservative legislation on the matter.
The non-religious pro-life argument is:
- There is a right to bodily integrity.
- There is a right to life.
- The right to life overrides the right to bodily integrity, hence, abortion isn’t rightful.
Underlying assumption: the unborn has rights.
I was wondering if there is a way to use railway dilemma ethics here. To remind you:
“There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:
- Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
- Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
Which is the most ethical choice?”
To me, this is identical to the following problem, though some people don’t agree:
“A brilliant transplant surgeon has five patients, each in need of a different organ, each of whom will die without that organ. Unfortunately, there are no organs available to perform any of these five transplant operations. A healthy young traveler, just passing through the city the doctor works in, comes in for a routine checkup. In the course of doing the checkup, the doctor discovers that his organs are compatible with all five of his dying patients. Suppose further that if the young man were to disappear, no one would suspect the doctor. Do you support the morality of the doctor to kill that tourist and provide his healthy organs to those five dying persons and save their lives?”
I really like how the railway dilemma was reframed into a transplant issue. I was just curious, could the pro-life argument be reframed too?
So here is a thought experiment:
A grown person requires a life-saving transplant.
You are the only match in the world.
Does your bodily integrity come below their right to life?
Is it different if they are your child?
Differences between the unique match vs pregnancy situations:
- Assuming that a woman became pregnant through a consensual act, she was aware of the possibility that her bodily integrity could be compromised by another being. A person living with the exact antigen type required never did anything that implied that they may need to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another person.
- The process of child birth is natural. Transplant is an invasive man-made procedure.
Differences between unique match to a child vs pregnancy situations in addition to the above:
The mother never envisaged that her bodily integrity would be compromised in this particular way.
What do you think?