Bodies for Sale?

A California woman recently asked advice from an ethics expert. She wanted to be artificially inseminated with sperm from her own father, who has Alzheimer's disease. She intended to abort the fetus so its brain tissue could be transplanted into her father's brain. Thankfully, the answer was no. It is currently illegal to conceive human beings for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs. But pressure is growing to change the law. It started when President Clinton lifted the ban on the use of fetal tissue for organ transplants. Immediately, fetal tissue brokers began gearing up for the demand. Though the law does not allow the sale of human organs, including fetal organs, abortion clinics do receive a so-called "service fee" for every fetus they hand over. And in turn brokers demand a sizeable "handling fee" for every specimen they deliver to doctors and researchers. So let's be honest: This is the commercial exchange of human body parts. The body is being treated not as a gift of God but as a piece of property. The demand for fetal tissue has also stimulated the development of gruesome new abortion techniques. Most abortion procedures crush the fetus. But in order to get organs that are still intact, abortionists are now extracting them in utero?cutting the fetus open while it is still alive. In one procedure for extracting fetal brain tissue, the abortionist reaches in and pulls the baby's entire body out, all except the head. With the head still inside the birth canal, a hole is made in the base of the skull and the brains are suctioned out. This is grisly business. The human body is no longer treated as deserving of special respect. It's just another commodity in the medical marketplace. And the culprit isn't only the medical profession. A lot of ordinary people lose their moral scruples when illness hits close to home. The director of the American Parkinson Association says, "The majority of people with [Parkinson's] disease couldn't care less about the ethical questions, they just want something that works." "Couldn't care less" about ethics . . . What a revelation of the way pure selfishness can take over. The only question then becomes, Does it work? as though we were talking about a machine. What we're seeing here is the triumph of a completely mechanistic view of human life. The human body is regarded as a purely physical object to be taken apart, sold, and used, just like any other physical object. Medical technology is raising a host of new ethical questions that each of us will have to answer. Christians need to be thoroughly grounded in the biblical teaching on human life. Genesis says we are made in the image of God, that we find our ultimate identity and worth in reflecting our Creator. That the human body is inviolable and worthy of respect. But the mechanistic view traces our identity in the image of a machine. This is nothing but idolatry: people bowing down to the work of their own hands. And like every form of idolatry, it dehumanizes all who worship at its shrine.


Chuck Colson



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