British Govt. Encouraging Women To Give Birth To Disabled Babies To Harvest Their Organs
British government officials are considering a new program to encourage women to consider giving birth to babies diagnosed with fatal illnesses, rather than have an abortion, so that the babies’ organs can be harvested after they die.
The Express reports that transplant surgeons proposed the new measure at a British National Health System conference because of a massive shortage of organs for transplant. The group of surgeons argued that sick children in the UK are dying because organ transplants are not available, according to the reports.
The Sunday Times describes how the proposal would work:
Women pregnant with severely disabled babies could be supported by the NHS to carry the child to full term in order to increase the number of organs for donation.
Some defects or disorders, which mean a child cannot survive after birth, can be detected early in pregnancy. One defect, anencephaly, in which the child’s brain fails to develop, can be spotted by a scan as early as 12 weeks.
Under the proposals, pregnant women discovered to be carrying such babies would be supported through the remainder of their pregnancy, allowing the child’s organs to develop fully. They would give birth as normal and key organs would be removed from the baby once it had been certified dead.
About 230 babies with anencephaly are aborted every year in Britain. Only a dozen are born alive.
Over the past two years only 11 babies under two months old have become organ donors.
According to the Express, the option of organ donation would not be raised until the mother says she is certain that she wants to have an abortion. The NHS also said it would not encourage or pressure anyone to donate their baby’s organs.
The Daily Mail reports more on the proposal: “In some cases, where donation has been agreed, babies could be certified brain dead but their bodies kept alive by artificial ventilation. Surgeons could then remove organs from these so-called ‘heartbeat babies’ when they are fresh, maximising what can be used and the chance of successful transplant.”
An NHS committee has been established to explore the proposal and other ways to increase organ donations for children, the report states.
Many are concerned about the ethical implications of the proposal. While encouraging women to give birth to severely disabled babies rather than abort them is a good thing, the proposal comes with its own set of problems. More