Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Selling Human Organs

L&H readers previously discussed whether it should be lawful to sell one's own organs. I know what is the libertarian response to this question. Nevertheless, knee-jerk application of political ideology to every issue can create bad policies, so I'll reserve judgment on this issue. I'm hesitant to support opening up human organ trafficking to the free market.

Virginia Postrel, however, has no such qualms:

People want to keep [kidney donation] as a heroic, uncompensated act because it makes them feel good. Never mind that tens of thousands of people are dying for your right to feel good about other people's heroic acts.

Hat tip: Instapundit


T Michael W Halcomb said...


Wasn't sure if my email made it to you; I know we had some trouble with the previous ones. Anyways, would you be able to meet and converse this Sat? Let me know.

John said...

I can't figure out the glitch, either. But I just sent you another e-mail.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, a subsequent post of mine did not appear. To reiterate:
I am opposed for medical reasons as well. Taking a potential donor to the operating room is extremely difficult. You have a healthy patient who is going to have an operation that is not medically indicated, that carries the risk of significant morbidity and mortality. Every surgical team that I have been involved with always find working with living donors to be a high risk affair for the patient, and not something to easily endorse. The vast majority of transplanted organs are not from living donors.
I am a free market kind of guy, but offering to pay these patients I believe is the wrong incentive that could lead to disasterous consequences.


DannyG said...


Andrew C. Thompson said...

I appreciate the predicament that many people are in because of the need for healthy organs or tissue. I know individuals who have been both fortunate and unfortunate in their waits for organ transplants. One of the best guys I know is alive today because he received a heart transplant in time, and the very fact that such a thing can be done is amazing to me.

That said, I think the utilitarian arguments wrapped up in debates around legalizing the selling of organs for money is extremely troubling. The 'ends justify the means' approach can be a very slippery slope.

Consider a counter example: We need stem cells for potentially life-saving medical research, and such cells are best harvested from fetal tissue. Why don't we encourage women to get pregnant, abort their babies at the best possible time to harvest such tissue, and pay them for their trouble?

I honestly don't want to sound sensational in saying that, but such thinking about peddling body parts can lead to exactly this kind of scenario.