Marketing human organs: The autonomy paradox

The severe shortage of organs for transplantation and the continual reluctance of the public to voluntarily donate has prompted consideration of alternative strategies for organ procurement. This paper explores the development of market approaches for procuring human organs for transplantation and considers the social and moral implications of organ donation as both a gift of life and a commodity exchange. The problematic and paradoxical articulation of individual autonomy in relation to property rights and marketing human body parts is addressed. We argue that beliefs about proprietorship over human body parts and the capacity to provide consent for organ donation are culturally constructed. We contend that the political and economic framework of biomedicine, in western and non-western nations, influences access to transplantation technology and shapes the form and development of specific market approaches. Finally, we suggest that marketing approaches for organ procurement are and will be negotiated within cultural parameters constrained by several factors: beliefs about the physical body and personhood, religious traditions, economic conditions, and the availability of technological resources.
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J. S. Taylor (2008). Market Incentives and Health Care Reform. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33 (5):498-514.
David C. Thomasma (1997). Bioethics and International Human Rights. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 25 (4):295-306.

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