Document Detail

Public policy and the sale of human organs.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12211266     Owner:  KIE     Status:  MEDLINE    
Gill and Sade, in the preceding article in this issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, argue that living individuals should be free from legal constraints against selling their organs. The present commentary responds to several of their claims. It explains why an analogy between kidneys and blood fails; why, as a matter of public policy, we prohibit the sale of human solid organs, yet allow the sale of blood; and why their attack on Kant's putative argument against the sale of human body parts is misplaced. Finally, it rejects the claim that the state is entitled to interfere with the actions of individuals only if such actions would harm others. We draw certain lines grounded in what Rawls has termed "public reason" beyond which we do not give effect to the autonomous self-regarding decisions of individuals. Public resistance to the sale of human body parts, no matter how voluntary or well informed, is grounded in the conviction that such a practice would diminish human dignity and our sense of solidarity. A system of organ donation, in contrast, conveys our respect for persons and honors our common humanity.
Cynthia B Cohen
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal     Volume:  12     ISSN:  1054-6863     ISO Abbreviation:  Kennedy Inst Ethics J     Publication Date:  2002 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-09-03     Completed Date:  2002-09-25     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9109135     Medline TA:  Kennedy Inst Ethics J     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  47-64     Citation Subset:  E    
Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Blood Donors*
Ethical Analysis*
Fees and Charges*
Human Body
Kidney Transplantation / economics
Living Donors*
Public Policy*
Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
United States

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