Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Monday, July 27, 2009

Should it be Legal to Sell Your Body Parts?

I think so. So apparently does Megan McArdle, who issues this challenge:

[E]plain why we should prevent people from voluntarily donating a kidney when living kidney donors do not appear to have an elevated risk of kidney failure without resorting to any of the following

Huffy declarations that anyone who disagrees with you must be amoral
Appeals to the fact that many other people are also against organ donation
Invoking the infamous "ick" factor involved in selling a body part

Extra credit: do all of the above, to someone on longterm dialysis who is legally prevented from buying an organ, or having the government buy one for her.

Double extra credit: prove that we don't need no stinkin' market by voluntarily donating your own kidney for the sheer joy of helping others.

Sorry Megan, but I can't explain it.

The good news is that there is an outside chance of these foolish rules changing over the next decade or so. After all, governments are desperate for revenue, and if they legalize the trade of organs, they can tax the resulting sales.

On the other hand, the amazing progress of stem cell research might make such sales obsolete by then. There's no need to buy someone else's organ when you can easily grow your own from modified skin cells.

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