Pro arguments for the use of prisoners' organs include the desperate need for more organs to stem 18 deaths per day on the U.S. wait list for transplants. And why should commitment of a crime serious enough to land a person in jail necessarily imply an inability to give informed consent for organ (and tissue) donation? Should inmates really be denied the right to make one or more altruistic acts upon their death? Is the notion of reforming a human's ability to behave honorably a complete lost cause?
Con arguments abound as well. Today, we would consider any prisoners' organs to fall within the definition of "CDC high risk" because of the increased prevalence of HIV infection. Would a jury and judge feel more at ease sentencing a defendant to death knowing that organ donation was already checked off on the driver's license?
|Reality can be unpleasant|
Reality can be unpleasant. The organ shortage is terrible. Commission of a crime serious enough to land a person in prison merits serious punishment. So long as transparency is retained within a system that requires informed consent of donors and recipients, this new law may be an important step forward for inmates and transplant candidates. Utah has dragged the entire U.S. into an ethically challenging arena. The implications must be clarified and openly acknowledged. Alternatives are not readily apparent, especially to those who can expect to die waiting for organs not otherwise available.