Ownership of Bodily Fluids and Organs: Do we have the right to sell Organs and Fluids?
The advancement of modern technology and our continual progress in medical sciences have made it necessary to debate this topic. There are many cases where it is unclear as to whom has the property rights of bodily fluids, cells, or organs. These questions of ownership tend to surface in cases where these products are no longer located within a person’s body. The necessity to delegate ownership of bodily substances suggests that “we have irretrievably entered an age that requires examination of our understanding of the legal rights and relationships in the human body and the human cell” (Charo, 1517). I believe if there is anything a person truly owns in this world, it is their body and every element associated with it. This right however, becomes more dubious when dealing with excised bodily materials that are often used in laboratory testing. There isn’t a legal document or a “single court opinion that addresses all the complexities of the legal notion of ‘property’” (Charo, 1517). Courts often face the difficult task of determining a person’s rights that are associated with property. In a general sense, we tend to think anything material regarded as “property”, is material that is owned by the person in possession of it. With regards to any material we own, we also assume we have the right to do what we will of these possessions. This is not true of our bodily components. The sale of any bodily organs or members is illegal in the United States because to “consider bodies and organs as property is tantamount to considering the people themselves as chattels” (483-4). I agree this law is necessary to respect the autonomy of individuals. The allowance to sell body parts would allow the wealthy population to “take advantage of the poor by offering such high prices for human organs that the poor would be unable to resist the enticement”...
Cited: Charo RA. “Body of research-ownership and use of human tissue”. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006; 355(15):1517-1519.
Kuhse, Helga, and Peter Singer. Bioethics. An Anthology Second Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
Mappes, Thomas A., and David Degrazia. Biomedical Ethics, Fifth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.
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