Do me a favour

Good old Vatican. Not that there’s anything surprising about it, but good old Vatican all the same. Grown women, who cares; pre-conscious insentient fetuses, all-important. So the woman was raped, so what; she has to have that baby!

A thought experiment. Not the kidney one, a different (though similar) one. A woman is newly pregnant against her will; she doesn’t approve of abortion and isn’t going to have one. She discovers the fetus has a very rare disease which is quickly fatal unless the fetus can be removed and implanted in a compatible host; such hosts are very rare but can be found via a computer search of a medical database. A compatible host is found. Is it murder if she refuses to be an actual host? Not just that – would anyone even think she had a very strong duty to be a host? Would anyone even think she had a weak duty?

I say no. Hardly anyone would think that. (Perhaps I’m underestimating the obsession with the fetus.) So the difference must be that in the usual case, the fetus exists because its mother had sex with a man. Why is that a kind of difference that makes a difference?

Okay put it more charitably, and emotively. The difference is because the fetus belongs to the person whose uterus it is in. But she’s the one who doesn’t want it. The Vatican perhaps thinks she ought to want it. But – is it really the Vatican’s business who loves whom, who wants whom? If the objects of the loving or wanting are not the kind of entities we otherwise think are owed occupancy of our bodies?

31 Responses to “Do me a favour”