Let’s Repeal Deadly Prohibition On Kidney Sales

Mark Perry
updated | Author's Website

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

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