Professor Sparks Instant Outrage After Suggesting Using Brain-Dead Women As Surrogates
Widespread outrage was expressed online in response to a University of Oslo philosophy associate professor's assertion the concept of "whole body gestational donation" or WBGD—which she refers to as utilizing brain-dead women to carry an unborn child to term—"deserves serious study."
According to a study by Anna Smajdor, PhD—released in the medical journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics in November of last year—"we already know that pregnancies can be successfully carried to term in brain dead women...there is no obvious medical reason why initiating such pregnancies would not be possible."
Dr. Smajdor is an associate professor at the University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas. Their work focuses on ethical questions related to medicine, innovation and the life-sciences.
Smajdor wrote WBGD would be a natural continuation of several other practices—such as organ donation and the preservation of already pregnant brain-dead women—noting also there were many cases of healthy deliveries in such cases.
Dr. Smajdor wrote:
“Of course, this proposal may seem shocking to some people."
"Nevertheless, as I have shown, if we accept that our current approach to organ donation and reproductive medicine are sound, WBGD donation seems to follow relatively smoothly from procedures that we are already undertaking separately.”
The reactions were not in favor of Dr. Smajdor's conclusions.
\u201cOnly in a woman-hating society, would using brain dead women as living wombs be up for discussion. This is how it starts, how it ends is legislators making this law. https://t.co/jJzpvpKwaw\u201d— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@Dr Charlotte Proudman) 1675444140
First up was the general horror.
Others explained why it's so abhorrent to them.
\u201c@doublehelix @DrProudman Donating organs is not the same as being kept alive by machines to carry babies. This would normalize equating women\u2019s bodies with incubators, an existence even less dignified than that of farm animals. It\u2019s bad for society to go in this direction and terrible for women.\u201d— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@Dr Charlotte Proudman) 1675444140
Others also brought up the specter of capitalism underlying the reason why this question was asked.
\u201c@missnemmanuel It\u2019s horrific @missnemmanuel because it shows you how those in power view our bodies! I feel like we are living in some kind of alien world where they feel making the impossible, possible is more worthy than having morals and ethics and a respect for human life x\u201d— Nathalie Emmanuel (@Nathalie Emmanuel) 1675477544
\u201c@missnemmanuel I think we will see more and more of this. Capitalism is about extracting more and more value from people. Organs are just another valuable resource to be extracted to the benefit of those with money. It's the next logical step in the continued accumulation of elite power.\u201d— Nathalie Emmanuel (@Nathalie Emmanuel) 1675477544
\u201c@missnemmanuel Which phase of capitalism is this exactly? I feel like we\u2019re definitely on the downhill side. It feels very Harlan Ellison to me.\ud83e\udd26\ud83c\udffb\u200d\u2640\ufe0f\u201d— Nathalie Emmanuel (@Nathalie Emmanuel) 1675477544
Others couldn't help but make a connection to a piece of fiction—The Handmaid's Tale.
\u201c@DrProudman The Handmaids Tale is FICTION not a How 2 Guide\u201d— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@Dr Charlotte Proudman) 1675444140
\u201c@DrProudman Handmaids Tale for real, but worse cause the women aren\u2019t even conscious to be aware of their non consent and the artificial use of their bodies. Suppose though they don\u2019t need to sew up their mouths or cut off fingers or that \ud83d\ude44\ud83d\ude44\u201d— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@Dr Charlotte Proudman) 1675444140
\u201c@DrProudman Dear God, like a sequel to Handmaid\u2019s Tale. Totally dystopian only it seems it\u2019s seriously being raised as a possibility. What ever happened to \u2018just because you can do it, doesn\u2019t mean that you should do it\u2019 ?\u201d— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@Dr Charlotte Proudman) 1675444140
It shouldn't really need to be stated but one person spelled it out clearly.
\u201cI guess it needs to be said now\u2014 DO NOT USE BRAIN DEAD PEOPLE WITH UTERI AS SURROGATES.\u201d— Rohin Bhatt\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08 (@Rohin Bhatt\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08) 1675494575
And several people shared they would change their mind about organ donation if this proposal became a reality.
\u201c@emrazz My God, I would stop being an organ donor. There is a difference in using my organs to SAVE a life and using my body to incubate a new life. Ew.\u201d— feminist next door (@feminist next door) 1675462839
Organ donation involves a one-time procedure at the moment of death.
Body donation for research purposes only occurs after a person reaches clinical death.
Dr. Smajdor's proposal would keep people alive for the sole purpose of using their body until it eventually is no longer viable for gestation and live birth.
The general consensus was humankind isn't ready to commodify people like that yet.