A “Swiftian” Solution to Unwanted Children, Then and Now

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

What to do about the vast number of poor, starving children?  That was the question that Jonathan Swift, best known for writing Gulliver’s Travels, answered in his 1729 essay A Modest Proposal.   

In response to the poverty that crippled Ireland at the time, Swift offered a win-win proposition. Having been told that “a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled…” Swift recommended that children “at a year old be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune” for their consumption.

In this way, “the constant breeders will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.” The population of the Irish poor would be kept in check, the appetites of the English rich satisfied, and the well-being of the ruling elite preserved.

Even Swift’s contemporaries recognized that the piece was, of course, satirical.  He did not want to kill poor children and feed them to the rich. Swift’s point in proposing such a ridiculous notion was to highlight the failure of politicians to address the very real problems of the Irish.

Yet, Swift’s sinister solution has taken root in our modern culture, albeit in a less conspicuous, but no less distasteful, form.  While we are not killing one year olds to feed to the wealthiest  tragically we are killing unborn babies en masse and using their livers, hearts, brains, scalps, and more to “feed” scientific research. An entire industry has arisen from this…one that starts with the abortion provider, moves to a tissue procurement company, and ends at research labs.

It’s a highly lucrative business. As the Center for Medical Progress asserted, there were  invoices that indicated that  intact fetal hearts from a child 18-24 weeks gestation sold for $595.  Half of a pre-natal liver for $350. A thymus for $500.  Lives of unwanted babies are ended and their much wanted body parts commodified. 

In an even more ghoulish turn, there are allegations that the hearts of babies may still be beating at the time of organ harvesting. Grant applications from the University of Pittsburgh to the National Institute of Health reference “ischemia.” Judicial Watch, which obtained 252 pages of records under a Freedom of Information lawsuit, reported

Later in the proposal, Pitt states that it records the “warm ischemic time on our samples and take steps to keep it at a minimum to ensure the highest quality biological specimens.” [The “warm ischemic time” refers to the amount of time an organ remains at body temperature after blood supply has been cut off.  Warm ischemic time differs from cold ischemic time which refers to amount of time the organ is chilled.  Pitt’s statement suggests the time between the abortion and collection is minimal.]

The implication is that some babies may be born alive and killed by dissection. In this way, pristine tissue and in-tact organs, the coveted “gold standard,” are obtained for research.

Utilitarianism at its best.  Or at its worst.  Babies are being killed for the “sin of unwantedness” and their body parts collected and sold to the highest bidder. And sometimes those babies might be alive when they are cut open.  

We would not do this to puppies (rightfully so), but we will do it to the unwanted child. And then justify it because it is, after all, in the name of science.

What a Swiftian notion! Eliminate the undesirables, and in the process, utilize them for the betterment of the born.  What was once a work of satire has materialized into a real-life horror story. 

Shame on us if we let this continue. We must stop this cannibalization of the most innocent and vulnerable.  If we are to truly progress as a society, we must use ethically-obtained tissue for future medical research, not feed our babies to the scientific elites.

To sign our petition to the University Of Pittsburgh Board Of Trustees, click here.