Should It Be Legal to Sell Your Body?
It should be illegal to sell your organs.
This may be a Q1 violation if you think there should be no limits on how people use their own bodies or you think that government should not interfere in the free market. It also might be a violation if you would consider selling part of your body if you were in dire financial straits.
This is a Q2 violation if you would want to buy someone’s organ as a replacement for your own, and might be a violation if there are some things you would like to do to earn money that others think should be illegal.
This statement is an attempt to find balance between one’s right to do with one’s body what one pleases and the possible social harm caused by an open market for human organs. Before you can make this statement, you must decide what harm to society there is that overrides a person’s right to their own body. Are you worried that:
- Desperate people will sell themselves piecemeal?
- Trafficking in human parts degrades respect for humanity?
- Criminals will be encouraged to kill people and sell them for parts?
- People will risk their health for money?
- The poor will become the spare-parts suppliers for the rich?
After you have identified the risks, you must decide where the line between risk and right is drawn. How much of a right should a person have to make a profit from their own body? With that in mind, which of the following should be legal? Which should be legal, but are immoral?
- At age ten, helping support your family by working in a factory.
- At age ten, helping support your family with a paper route.
- Lying still on a table while dinner party guests eat sushi off of your naked body.
- Making hard-core pornographic movies.
- Agreeing with your husband that a rich man can sleep with you for $1 million.
- Carrying another woman’s child to term for money.
- Posing naked as an artist’s model.
- Getting plastic surgery so you can make more money as a professional model.
- Modifying your body so you can get work in a sideshow.
- Cutting off your little finger to win a big bet.
- Participating in legitimate scientific experiments for money.
- Volunteering for hazardous duty because it pays a bonus.
- Pushing yourself to exhaustion by working long hours.
- Auctioning the right to tattoo a company’s logo on your forehead.
- Marrying a person more than twice your age so you can be a "trophy spouse" with the promise of a significant inheritance when your spouse dies.
- Selling your hair, blood, sperm, or eggs.
- Selling yourself into indentured servitude.
- Willing that, if you are ever in a coma, you should not be kept alive artificially and your organs should be sold to the highest bidder.
- Willing that, if you are ever in a coma, you should not be kept alive artificially and your organs should be given free of charge to those in need.
In any of these examples, would the amount of money being paid make a difference to whether or not the practice should be legal or moral?
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.