Friday, May 15, 2009

My Body, My Choice?

A conversation in the combox sparks this thought experiment.

Suppose a lactating mother living in the middle of nowhere finds a newborn that has been disposed of. (Not unheard of-- some mothers go through the pregnancy then dump the baby.)

Suppose the baby is obviously hungry and the mother is the only source of food. She is the only lactating mother of reproductive age in her village and formula is inaccessible for whatever reason.

Is it the mother's right to refuse to breastfeed the baby on the basis of her personal autonomy, i.e. "My Body, My Choice"?

Is she morally obligated to breastfeed that baby?

And should the baby suffer negative and long-lasting repercussions from refusing to feed the baby, should the mother suffer legal consequences?

What if "My Body, My Choice" leads to a dead newborn? Should that be legal?