Saturday, May 26, 2012

Let's Repeal Deadly Prohibition On Kidney Sales

From Reason' Matt Welch in the Boston Review:

"Every day, eighteen people die in the United States while waiting in vain for a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The Department of Health & Human Services reports that more than 92,000 patients were on the kidney waiting list [updated as of today] (see chart above), but that only 16,812 transplants were made in 2011. That deadly math is part of the reason that, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than 380,000 Americans are on dialysis, a punitively expensive and physically grueling death-postponement procedure. The imbalance cannot be meaningfully addressed via cadaver-harvesting alone.

So we know that maintaining prohibition—letting the law be guided by our moral revulsion toward placing price tags on human organs—will certainly increase the body count. We know that boosting the number of kidney donations from the living is the only real way to whittle the waiting list down. And we also know, from such procedures as egg donation, that legalizing monetary rewards is a guaranteed method for expanding the pool of living donors. Your morality may vary, but mine says that sentencing more than 6,000 people a year to an avoidable death falls well short of the Golden Rule. My inquest therefore concludes that the burden of argumentative proof on the legality of kidney sales should fall squarely on those who back the lethal status quo.

This is not some academic exercise. People are dying right now because we have let our revulsion at markets create serial prohibitions of consensual behavior, whether it’s buying and selling marijuana, sex, or kidneys. How many more people are we willing to let perish for this mistake?"

He was responding to the essay "How Markets Crowd Out Morals" by Michael J. Sandel in the same issue of Boston Review.

HT: Andrew Sullivan


At 5/26/2012 9:25 AM, Blogger JakeW said...

If one feels purchasing a human kidney is immoral. Don't purchase human kidneys. Simple. However, don't thrust your morals on other people.

There needs to be a rash of influential politicians who are personally affected by the kidney shortage (not that I want to wish harm on anyone, but that would get the legalization ball rolling).

At 5/26/2012 1:49 PM, Blogger jorod said...

Sell more motorcycles.

At 5/26/2012 8:58 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

I don't know, Jake. Politicians always find a way to get around the legislation they inflict on the rest of us.

It's going to take a huge cultural shift. Obesity is putting a strain on American bodies, as is our increasing lifespan. When things get bad enough, the pressure to change the laws will come from the population, I think. Certainly not from the inkblots in congress.

At 5/27/2012 3:41 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jorod: "Sell more motorcycles."

I like it! That's a great idea, and I'm sure those who sell motorcycles are doing everything they can toward that end. It's not clear, however, that telling potential customers they are helping provide badly needed kidneys is a good selling point.

At 5/28/2012 7:23 AM, Blogger GeneHayward said...

An article appearing today in The Guardian.


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