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What’s Wrong With Selling Your Organs?

P. Tittle
By P. Tittle
Subversive Bits

Posted: Sep 24, 2012

It seems to be morally acceptable to sell one’s blood, sperm, eggs, and hair. So… what’s so unacceptable about selling one’s kidney?

And in case people think the fore-mentioned sales are unacceptable, let me make another analogy: it’s okay to get paid to play football — why is using your body as a linebacker in order to earn an income acceptable, but using it as an organ store is not?

Is it because the person offering a kidney is doing so due to economic duress? So may be the linebacker. In fact, all of us who have to work, to pay for food and shelter, offer our bodies (brains included, sometimes) under economic duress to do so.

Is it that the linebacker is making an offer of service, but the organ seller is making an offer of product? The former is temporary, the latter permanent? But many people, not just athletes, suffer permanent debilitating injury.

Of course, there’s a possibility that people will start taking other people’s physical resources without consent. Theft and slavery are nothing new.

Will it lead to a black market? More often, legalizing something leads to regulation and a diminishment of black market activity.

Actually, we don’t sell blood. Not here in Canada. We give it away. Is it because it’s so necessary? Is that the difference? One can live without football…

Is it that organs for sale violates the presumed equal right to life? But then all the pharmaceuticals required to live with an otherwise fatal condition should be free.

And food, too.

P. Tittle is the author of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), Sh*t that Pisses Me Off (Magenta, 2011), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000), and What If...Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005). She lives in Canada, and she blogs at
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This issue would be largely moot if we had an opt-out system of posthumous organ donation.

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