The Pro-Life Position and Good Business Practice
Around the time of the Schiavo affair, Angry Bear (the blogger himself!) wrote a post which discussed, among other things, the case of Sam Hudson, a comatose boy who died after his feeding tube was removed by the hospital. That was done against the wishes of his mother, but then, she was penniless and couldn’t afford to pay the hospital. Courts have upheld that decision, the precedent has been set, and this sort of thing is no longer news.
Similarly, it should surprise no-one that a pharmaceutical company is under no obligation to provide a drug to an indigent patient, even if that patient has zero possibility of survival without that drug. Ditto makers of medical devices of various kinds. Closer to home, for most of us – we aren’t required to provide a meal or shelter to a homeless person outside our front door, even if without these that person would not survive the night.
Its cold blooded, but if we did force hospitals to perform any procedure desired by patients who couldn’t pay, or makers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to serve those who can’t afford it, or even the average Joe to help the poor, we’d be infringing on private property rights to a degree that even the poor replica of capitalism we’ve had in this country over the past few decades could never survive. And while a sizable percentage of the population may wish it were possible to for everyone to be helped in theory – the rest perhaps seeing need as a morality play of some sort – we recognize that we wouldn’t want to be placed in a world where we were required to help everyone in every situation. For one thing, we would all collectively go broke. And because we don’t want to be forced to into that world, we generally don’t force other people to live in that world either.
Except… many Americans would like to force one group of people to give resources – time and money – to another they do not want to support. That group are women who would otherwise have an abortion. After all, carrying a child to term is a burden – it causes changes to the body and in some instances, puts one’s life at risk. Its certainly a much bigger burden, say, than forcing some medical devices company to provide stents to those who need them, which as noted above, we would never contemplate doing. And while the fetus or unborn child – pick your favorite term – is innocent of any blame, the same can be said of Sam Hudson, the boy whose feeding was removed, not to mention many of those who need pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or even a warm meal and a place to spend the night.
In a nutshell, the “pro-life” crowd’s position is this: if a woman has a voluntary abortion its a sin. However, if a hospital or a pharmaceutical company or some other entity denies her some resource or some treatment that is necessary for the fetus or unborn child to survive and that denial is due to financial considerations, well, that’s just good business practice. And the internal contradictions of the “pro-life” crowd are even worse after we’re born: if a hospital disconnects a child from a feeding tube and boots him from the hospital knowing full well that those actions mean the child will die painfully within a few days, that’s fine, but if the child’s mother tries to ease that same child’s last moments with an overdose of morphine, that’s murder.