Spare Parts

The Brave New World is creeping closer, where some humans are designated to serve as a source of spare parts for others.

At what juncture can the forces arrayed against life confidently announce that their brutish foot soldiers have already stormed the garrison of civilization? Oxford University Professor Sir Richard Gardner is one such soldier; and in the enduring war against life, he has provided a sobering reminder of how far past the entry gates his platoon of fellow warriors has already advanced.

Sir Richard Gardner, an advisor to Britain's Royal Society, recently suggested that more studies should be done on the feasibility of fetal organs transplants to patients suffering from organ failure. Since the organs would be coming from babies that have already been aborted, Mr. Gardner did not anticipate the project would pose any moral quandaries. What is more, his novel idea was enthusiastically cheered by a fellow academic, Professor Stuart Campbell, who favorably reiterated that since "many babies were aborted quite late ... it [was] a shame to waste their organs".

The recommendation bears some similarity to that of the infamous Dr Jack Kevorkian, who a few years ago proposed the removal of organs from freshly executed death row prisoners as a subject for serious debate.  Both Dr. Kevorkian and Professor Gardner argue that their ideas present a rather practical solution to the problem of myriad patients waiting on the organ donor list. A distinction that some may view as immaterial is that in the case of death row inmates, the organs would be coming from people who forfeited their freedom because of crimes they have committed, while the organs of unborn babies would be coming from such that have committed no crime, and whose lives are allegedly terminated for the cause of freedom.

But most striking about Mr. Gardner's recommendation is that he merrily evades any discussion on the volatile issue of abortion. The subject is swiftly bypassed and at best used as a segue for discussing the merits of organ donation. As if there no longer need be any debate on the moral quandary of taking innocent human life, today's academics are more inclined to engage is a more progressive dialectic, majoring on the redemptive value of salvaging the uninjured remains of abortion's wretched victims to alleviate the suffering of others.

Most of us are not compelled to carefully evaluate such outlandish propositions until they are posited under what it's considered to be morally legitimate grounds. We are then reminded of the consequences of neglecting time tested, established standards that were once instinctively appealed to as points of reference toward moral clarity. Moreover, we miss the fact that those who decry such traditional mores as outdated and unenforceable are themselves unveiling the new, alternative standards.

These reformed standards take root when there is a willful abandonment of the principle that human life derives its inviolable dignity from the creator. Science's restorative abilities are transformed into a potential to greatly enhance our humanity beyond its natural limitations. Man is then gradually taught to believe that the marvelous achievements of Science are sufficient reason to wean him from this fundamental principle. Soon enough Science declares moral triumph over the dignity of human life.

Thus is life is appraised within a strictly utilitarian framework and bereaved of any value that was once thought to be derived from a creator. Once this all encompassing shift has been affected, it is not long before Science becomes supreme and the human body one of its varied tools toward advancement. 

Thus we find ourselves, very much in line with what ethicists have warned for decades would be the logical outcome of believing that man is merely the product of detached forces of chance. And presently we are standing upon a proverbial -- and rather steep -- slippery slope; and sliding down at a furious pace. The question is no longer how we got here in the first place, but rather how much worse can it get; and most importantly, how do we find our way back to a place where we can realistically call ourselves a civilized society.

But to wield such impertinent questions is to impose on those who beg to differ. To wit the two fine professors proudly trumpet their proposal under the banner of progress rather than as a concession to the progressive elite.

Yet this proposal is not without its own ethical parameters. It is not good -- the Oxford professors maintain -- to squander the spare parts of already aborted babies, since they could be recycled to benefit the living. They admit to a principled distinction between that which is sensible and beneficial from that which is impractical and wasteful. But this distinction is firmly rooted on a materialistic foundation, and so it must bar any allusions to life's divinely bestowed sanctity from disrupting the debate.

In every generation, such allusions are scolded for standing in the way of progress, when in fact they are the last remaining strongholds against the corrosive tides of moral decay and barbarism. C.S. Lewis, another Oxford Alumnus, succinctly foretold of this solecism which eventually would be misconstrued as progress, when he wrote that the greatest evils were

"not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint but [are] conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices".