Where the slippery slope of treating the “products of conception” as a commodity is taking us.

As I was pondering the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood doctors carving up aborted babies in order to sell their organs, and executives haggling over the price like old ladies in an open-air market haggling over the price of dill weed, I recalled that a few years ago, philosophers Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics proposing that infanticide be called post-birth abortion instead and purporting to prove that there is no moral problem with the practice because infants, like fetuses, are non-persons:

[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. … [W]e propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus … rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.

This was quickly accepted by much of liberal society, which isn’t surprising given that child euthanasia is already legal in some European countries, most notably without any age limit in Belgium.  By treating the killing of human life as sometimes acceptable and the “products of conception” (embryos, fetuses/babies) as a for-profit commodity, we have accelerated our descent down a slippery slope to utter depravity.

Given that…

  • IVF technology is widely available
  • surrogacy is increasingly socially accepted and continues to grow as a for-profit business in poor countries such as India

and if…

  • the organs and other body parts of aborted babies are acceptable to sell,
  • post-birth abortion (infanticide) is ethical,
  • and human cloning becomes possible (which it probably will within our lifetimes),


  • it will be considered ethical to pay poor women to be a sort of “body parts” farm for the wealthy.

The market for this will eventually be huge. A wealthy person will simply pay a poor woman in India to carry and deliver an infant, perhaps conceived via IVF or perhaps a clone if the technology has advanced that far (as it soon will); the baby will then be murdered and have whatever organ or tissue the wealthy person needs or wants “harvested” for use.

At first it will be couched in terms of medical need – This man will die without a new kidney!  How can you be against saving his life? – and eventually it will be considered acceptable for any purpose – Why isn’t it ethical to grow new sex organs for use by a person who is “transitioning” to the opposite sex?  Why shouldn’t that celebrity grow herself a new face full of baby-smooth skin?

Given what modern liberals have already stipulated as being morally acceptable, the only impediment to the above scenario is technological.


7 thoughts on “Where the slippery slope of treating the “products of conception” as a commodity is taking us.

  1. It’s a sad and horrifying world we find ourselves in, isn’t it? We already have the technology to clone human beings and we’re already creating designer babies for designer marriages. Recently we were working on one with 3 way DNA for a 3 way marriage. Unfortunately the poor in places like India and Mexico have been selling their own organs for some time now. In the US we often pay people to donate blood, in other places we pay them to donate a kidney.


  2. Hopefully, (I pray) the advances that are being made with medical 3D printing and other methods of growing new organs for people, will arrive before our morals slip that far. Or at least they will be cheaper/faster, leaving the “organ farm” method you suggest to be to be frowned upon as not terribly economical.

    Not that this slope doesn’t still lead to ugly places. More likely it will lead to plain old eugenics and “undesirable” people being pressured into assisted suicide, with these practices being known about and accepted by the public.


  3. Two things: first, aren’t PP just talking about the cost of delivery of donated body parts? Organ donation is distressing, whether you’re talking about foetuses or adults. Moreso from adults, because the brain is kept active while surgery to remove the organs is taking place; the line between life and death is thin and contested. But ultimately what is being discussed is the shipping of organs, rather than a market price of the organs themselves. There’s been no suggestion that the organs are harvested for profit – they’re donated.

    Second, though, is to the question of whether it’s ever possible that people would create foetal cells for profitable harvest. This is a real question and I fully expect that it will happen, though in the developing world, rather than in the first world. There’s a good book about this, called Red Harvest, about the traffic in body tissues.

    When I had my blog up, I wrote about surrogacy, which is a trafficking in body parts. I was surprised to find that absolutely nobody, from either right or left of politics, agreed that reproductive trafficking of poor women was a bad thing. Apparently if it’s her choice, there’s no problem. The reality that when you’re poor there is no real choice didn’t matter.


    • Bodycrimes, when they are dickering over price instead of clarifying the cost structure and telling the world they want a Lamborghini, I think it’s safe to say that the Planned Parenthood representatives are trying to make a profit this way, don’t you think?

      Regarding fetal cells for harvest, a lot of vaccines are already developed using the cells from one aborted baby–so what you talk about in your second paragraph is already happening. Somehow a lot of food taste labs use fetal remains to do their work–yet another reason, I guess, to avoid processed foods these days.

      And I’ll go with surrogacy being a bad thing for a simple reason; mother is bound to her child while the child is still in the womb. To separate for cash is always going to be something of a “non-voluntary” decision, just like prostitution generally is.


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