British Government Health Care: Keep Your ‘Defective’ Babies Until Birth in Order to Harvest Their Organs
At the annual meeting of the British Transplantation Society in Glasgow, it was revealed that the National Health Service, Britain’s government-run health care system, will start asking expectant mothers whose babies have fatal defects that they should keep them full-term — not to respect their lives, but in order to harvest their organs.
In the UK, many mothers abort their babies upon learning about birth defects. However, Britain is facing a shortage of body parts for transplantation; there are currently over 7,000 people on the organ waiting list, with three dying every day.
Dr Trevo Stammers, director for bioethics at St Mary’s University, London, condemned the practice. “It is a ghoulish suggestion that can only undermine public confidence in transplantation — one of the greatest medical advances of my lifetime,” he said. “Raiding the bodies of children born only for their organs will further tarnish the profession.”
Babies with the brain defect anencephaly would be recommended for harvesting. In many cases, the baby would be born brain dead and kept alive by artificial ventilation while its organs are harvested. However, not all babies with anencephaly end up dying. Angela Morales and Jaxon Strong both survived after birth in 2014. Now their parents work to increase awareness of the fact. Jaxon’s parents wrote on a website, “He can hear, see, can say words, has learned to use a pacifier, smile, laugh, and is working on the ability to eat on his own and use his arms and legs to learn to crawl, sit and hopefully one day, even walk on his own. ”
The practice received national attention in the U.S. in 1992, when the parents of Baby Theresa, who also had anencephaly, wanted to donate her organs at birth. However, Baby Theresa lived for nine days, and Florida law would not permit organ harvesting until she was fully dead. At that point, it was too late and the organs were no longer usable.
In 1992, the longest a baby with anencephaly had lived was two months. Now that these babies are surviving longer, it raises even more serious ethical questions about aborting them or harvesting their organs before they’re fully dead.