Should the sale of organs be legal?
The exchange of organs for money is one that has been considered both immoral and illegal in the United States. I believe it is a taboo that has gone on long enough and needs to be reformed for the sake of the thousands that die each year because of it. Each day, several individuals die because of a shortage in the available supply of organs. The supply of a lot of these organs is actually in abundance, but it is artificially suppressed by restricting individuals from making a fair exchange for them. By allowing the sale of certain organs we can practically eliminate the death from lack of organs overnight. I believe it is essential for us to apply reason on this subject, as opposed to feelings of disgust, in order to allow more people to live life-worthy lives.
What are some objections to the sale of organs?
One objection towards the sale of organs, besides the unreasonable feelings of disgust, are the claims that it would exploit the poor. Stating that the sale of organs will exploit the poor is similar to stating that allowing the donation of organs will exploit the generous. It seems unintuitive to consider something morally acceptable when done for free and morally unacceptable when two consenting adults make a fair exchange. This form of reasoning would lead us to believe that volunteering is the only ethical form of labor. The disparity between rich and poor is at an all-time high and allowing for a fair exchange of organs for currency will allow for poorer individuals to be lifted out of poverty and allow for another individual to extend his/her life. Given the extremely high prices of procedures, such as dialysis, which costs insurance companies several tens of thousands of dollars each year for each patient that needs it, it is very possible that a kidney could possibly be exchanged for upwards of 80,000 dollars. These 80,000 dollars could lift an entire family out of poverty and potentially lead them and their community in a positive cycle of wealth and prosperity. Taking this into consideration, it would seem unethical to ban this life-saving and life-enhancing exchange.
The second objection to the sale of organs is the belief that this exchange would only benefit the rich, however, this may not be the case. This belief may be justified with the current status of the United States healthcare system, but is not justified in other industrialized nations which have universal coverage for all of their citizens. This objection can also be nullified in the United States if it also adopts universal coverage for its citizens. This would mean that both the rich and poor will be able to benefit from this life-saving exchange. A potentially great idea, which can exist when the sale of organs are allowed, could be to compensate the families of those who are organ donors if an individual’s organs were used after their death. After a death, the family of that individual suffers a terrible loss, but matters are made worse when the economic grief of paying funeral and everyday bills take place. Families would greatly benefit from this compensation and this system would also cause more people to become organ “donors”. This system could be an addition to a system of regulated organ sales. The exploitation of these systems is possible, but if appropriate regulations were set in place then these potential exploits would be insignificant.
The third objection to the sale of organs is the belief that there would be people killing other people for their organs. This would be completely false in an appropriately regulated system of organ sale. In an appropriately regulated organ exchange system the sale of organs would occur in the same way that organ donations occur. The organs would not be accepted on their own, but rather accepted by the person who is getting the organ removed. There would be an extensive health screening process and an interviewing process to make sure that the individual is fully aware of the potential consequences of the procedure. This would mean that there would be no incentive to kill anyone to sell their organs because they wouldn’t receive a single penny unless they were the person that was originally born with the organ. So instead of thinking of a system of organ sales as a flea market where anyone can sell anyone’s kidney, think of it as a blood donating center with much higher and longer standards of health screenings. If you were to go to a blood donation center holding a bag of someone else’s blood they would never accept it and neither will a centralized system of organ sale.
It seems highly conceivable that if a system of organ sales were in place there would be an abundance of available organs, a greater amount of lives saved, and thousands of impoverished families lifted out of poverty. Although this system may not be as necessary if every member of society was an organ donor, it seems unethical to prohibit this regulated system only because some people would feel unreasonably uneasy with the exchange.
Have an objection of your own? Let me know in the comments section below!