Libertarian warning: I’m about to advocate a position that comes from my libertarian leanings, and that some people are going to find, if not offensive, pretty peculiar. I’m going to ask you to hear me out, to not adopt a knee-jerk reaction (which I find to be typical of people on all sides of the political spectrum, true of liberals, sure, but truer of conservatives than most of them would admit it to be), but rather, to consider rationally and reasonably a concept that perhaps you’ve dismissed (if you’ve ever even thought about in the first place). Knee-jerk reactions are just so common. When I advocate that the war on drugs is unwinnable, that we’ve had forty years of experience at finding out what doesn’t work, that we continue to throw megamillions of dollars, and a gazillion man-hours of time, into a hopeless situation, that we are overcrowding our prisons with non-violent criminals, and actually finding people dying, not just from taking drugs but from our efforts to keep people from taking them, I fear that some people take a knee-jerk pose, when in fact, a good, rational debate over the best approach to dealing with the scourge of drug use, would do us all good as Americans.
Same with this issue. So hang on.
I want to submit that innocent people are dying needlessly in America because we have a hangup over something, labeling it “immoral” without any Scriptural sanction to do so, and that if we’d get past this hangup, everybody would win. Everybody.
Here’s the question: In a world where people are dying needlessly waiting on transplant organs, whence cometh our “moral” objections to allowing a person to sell an organ? Let me break this down several different ways. First, exactly what about my proposal would be immoral? Several years ago, a lady in my church donated her kidney to her father, prolonging his life by a couple years. We (rightly!) viewed her act as selfless, even heroic. Donating an organ is something we deem noble.
All right, then, if it’s OK to do it for free, why is it not OK to do it for money? “Ah, but that’s terrible, to make money off the gift of life”. I’m sorry, but please, spare me. In an organ donation situation, everybody profits. The person receiving the organ gets a new lease on life. The doctors make out like bandits financially, as does the hospital, the drug companies, the nurses, the support staff…need I go on? Oh, there is exactly one person who gets no benefit (except warm feelings of satisfaction) in this arrangement: the person donating the organ. Hello! What is wrong with this picture? We reward everyone in some fashion except for the person giving up the organ? And we call that the “moral” thing to do?
What about the tragic situation of a young death, say by auto accident. A poor family is approached about organ donation–but they can’t get any remuneration; they have to agree to the deal out of the goodness of their hearts. But the rich doctor gets richer, etc. No, getting money for the organs wouldn’t bring back their loved one, but it might significantly help out the young widow and help provide for the kids. And yet we prohibit this, currently, for reasons that utterly escape me.
Second, tell the dying person that there’s no kidney match, and watch the patient die, when the patient and her family would gladly purchase a kidney from a person motivated by financial gain. Who cares what the motivation is? A patient who would have died now lives. And again, nothing different is done procedurally; a matching kidney is a matching kidney; the only difference is that it was purchased rather than received as a gift. Where’s the problem in this scenario?
So to recap: we now have a situation where there is a dearth of good organs, and people die. We have the solution within our grasp: allow people to sell organs. If we made this change, we’d have a surplus of potential life-saving organs. And yet because of some hard-to-understand squeamishness, we allow people to die.
Is it beginning to sound to you like what we are currently doing might be the “immoral” thing?