Imagine that you wake up one morning in a hospital bed. In the bed next to you is a famous singer. He is unconscious and all of these tubes are connected from him to you. A doctor comes in and explains that the singer became sick and you are the only person with the right blood type to match his. They need you to remain hooked up to him until he recovers… they tell you it should only take nine months. Until then, he needs to use all of your organs… your kidneys, liver, lungs, everything… just to survive. If you unplug yourself, he will die. So do you think you are obligated to stay plugged in? Does he have a right to live off of you like this? Should you be FORCED to stay connected to him?
Matt gives ten replies to Rachel's argument. And the response is amazing. At last count, 670 comments. I quit trying to read through them all.
This recalls to me the argument that Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform gave to a philosophy professor from Ottawa University when she debated him a few years ago. The professor put forward this scenario, in his case a famous violinist who was plugged into your body and needed you there for nine months. Stephanie's reply was that the case is different with a woman carrying a child.
The uterus serves one purpose: to provide the environment for a growing living human being to reach the point where it can survive outside of its mother's body. Every month, the woman's body goes through a process of preparing the uterine wall to receive a fertilized egg, and every month her body (if she is healthy and in her child-bearing years) releases one egg or more that travels down the fallopian tube. It may or may not be fertilized; if it is, then it travels to the uterus where it implants itself in the wall of that organ and everything kicks into action.
Stephanie's point is that the uterus exists for the life that might possibly live there. It serves no other purpose. It performs no function in the woman's body, other than being used for procreation. Therefore can it not be said that the uterus exists for the child that might live there? Unlike other organs, it doesn't serve an essential function for the woman, it serves an essential function for someone else.
Matt was close to Stephanie's argument when he wrote:
An unborn child is exactly where he is supposed to be. He couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. This is the fundamental difference between two people hooked up to machines on a hospital bed, and a ‘fetus’ connected to his mother insider her womb. The former represents unnatural and extraordinary measures, while the latter represents something natural and ordinary. The unborn child is where Nature (or God, as I call Him) intends it to be.
The unborn child is not, in any scientific or medical sense, an intruder or a parasite. These words have meanings, and unborn babies do not fit the bill. They are where they are supposed to be. They are where they belong. A fish belongs in water, just as an unborn child belongs in his mother’s womb.
I think together, Matt and Stephanie give a pretty conclusive rebuttal to Rachel's argument.