Anybody Want to Buy a Kidney?
Conservatives and libertarians hold the free market in very high regard--and rightfully so.
The voluntary exchange of goods and services not only serves as a strong social cohesive, but is a catalyst for prosperity and growth. If I have an abundance of wheat and a shortage of water, while my neighbor has an abundance of water and a shortage of wheat, he and I can come to an agreement which, upon completion leaves both of us better off.
However, voluntary exchange isn't inherently good in and of itself. The goods and services being exchanged must also be taken into consideration.
Few would argue, for example, that voluntary exchanges between two parties that involve the enslavement of another third party are acceptable. Some do argue, however, that voluntary exchange of drugs, or sexual favors are perfectly fine--s0 long as the exchange is done between two consenting adults.
Others differ, but the point is that we as a society place some limit on what exactly can and cannot be exchanged.
What about kidneys?
Modern medicine has advanced to the point where if my kidney fails, it is now possible for a doctor to replace my failed kidney with another, usually thanks to a generous donor.
There are few who have any qualms about organ donors, but what about organ sellers?
Wesley J. Smith, over at National Review Online, has an excellent article that sheds light on the issue.
I highly recommend the entire article, but the gist of his argument is explained here:
Some might respond that these actual and potential examples of biological colonialism are not such a big deal — just the marketplace at work. But the donor’s consent surely isn’t the be-all and end-all, especially when the parties to these transactions have such disproportionate bargaining power. Besides, we could make the same argument about voluntarily entering into indentured servitude or selling oneself to a sex trafficker. Societies have a right — a duty — to outlaw even voluntary transactions that exploit the bodies of vulnerable human beings.
Laws aside: Renting the gestational capacities of destitute women and buying organs from the desperate poor should not be celebrated or condoned. Such practices deserve our scorn.
One of the main assumptions of voluntary exchange, is that the two parties are on somewhat equal ground. Smith argues that more and more frequently that buyers from the first world have an unfair advantage over their third world sellers.
Additionally, he states that many of the organs being sold are harvested not from willing sellers, but taken by force or through other suspect means.
As such, the trade should be frowned upon.
What do you all think?
If a poor Indian woman wants to make some money by selling her eggs or her kidneys, shouldn't she be able to? After all, if she feels that it helps her situation, why not let her?