Thoughts on Blood Donation and Bodily Autonomy

I started donating blood in 2016, when I realized I could donate despite being diabetic. (I’d misunderstood or been misinformed about that.) I’ll get my 4-gallon pin with my next donation.

This is personal to me. Donated blood and platelets helped my wife survive nine months while she was fighting cancer.

I’m O-, which is the universal donor. Which means the Red Cross REALLY wants my blood. I get plenty of reminder calls, texts, and emails. Donors also sometimes receive gift cards, T-shirts, and other goodies, all to encourage us to give.

What they don’t do is come to my house, pin me down, and take my precious O- blood by force. That would be ridiculous, right? Not to mention criminal. Even in the midst of the first-ever National Blood Crisis, they can beg for donations, but I always have the right to say no.

Even if my donation would make the difference between a patient living and dying — I have the right to say no, and to let that patient die. (See McFall v. Shimp)

“But what if it’s an innocent child, or a helpless baby?”

Legally, it doesn’t matter. I have the right to say no. Even if it means that child or baby will die.

Would I say no? I would not. I plan to keep donating for as long as I’m physically able to do so. I’m also registered as an organ donor. Because that’s what I choose to do.

Even if I caused an accident, and the victim is bleeding out, and only my blood can keep them alive — I still have the right to say no. I have the right to choose whether or not to donate my blood.

17 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. (Source) But–living or dead–you have the right to refuse to donate your organs. The rights of your corpse trump the “right to life” of those people waiting for transplants.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer knowing the Red Cross or the government can’t force me to donate blood. That I can choose to donate, but that nobody is allowed to violate my bodily autonomy.

Think about it. Do you really want the Red Cross kicking down your door to collect a quarterly donation from you and your kids?

(I exaggerate. The RC people I’ve worked with are great people. I’m sure they’d knock first.)

“But what about the rights and bodily autonomy of that helpless baby?”

I don’t think the Red Cross or the government should be able to force babies to donate blood and organs either. But, again, I can’t be forced to violate my own bodily autonomy to save that baby’s life.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I somehow became pregnant. If my unborn child is a person, you can’t force me to violate my bodily autonomy to save that person. If they’re not — if they’re a part of my body — I have the right to choose what to do with my own body.

Of course, if people really cared about reducing abortions, there are ways to do it without violating bodily autonomy. For example, “[P]roviding birth control to women at no cost…cuts abortion rates by 62 to 78 percent compared to the national rate.” (Source)

The push to criminalize abortion isn’t about protecting life. It’s about power and control over other people.

Just like every other abusive relationship.