Is the Idea of an Organ Market Losing Its Repugnance?

(Polka Dot)

From a reader named Dmitry Mazin:

So I’m doing legalizing the organ market (selling your own organs only) for my speech class because I wanted to do something really repugnant and controversial.

Well, I passed out a survey to my class of about thirty people and two whole people were against this system. And this isn’t a progressive area — it’s in the Bible Belt of Southern California. Even Catholics were for it.

I think this corroborates that repugnance survey in the Freakonomics Radio episode “You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!”

So there you go.

Have a great day!

Hey, you have a great day too, Dmitry.

P.S.: I didn’t know there was a “Bible Belt of Southern California.” (Here’s a rare web cite about it; and here’s an earlier post called “We Pretend We Are Christians.”


Kate

Speaking of the organ market -

Female body rental. Surrogacy, prostitution.

Surrogacy - 9 month rental, hormonal and physical changes; 10.43 per cent chance of experiencing complications for women aged 20-29 (This is not including C-sections, random minor complications), 3 months of physical discomfort and 4-35 hours of intense physical pain.

Prostitution - most frequently, between 10 min and an hour of continuous and purely physical services. The possibility to terminate provision of services if pain/physical discomfort arises. If we assume standard work conditions, physical risks include minor vaginal or anal tearing, jaw or hand cramps, and minimal possibility of STD transmission via Oral sex or if a condom slips off or breaks during vaginal or anal intercourse.

Why is surrogate motherhood legal in the United States while prostitution is illegal? Why is the former illegal in Canada, the UK, and the EU, while the later is either completely or partially legalized?

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daniel

Here in the UK, surrogacy is treated fairly similar to prostitution. Neither are illegal, per se. But it is illegal to;

run a brothel
loiter/solicit yourself on the streets
kerb crawl

advertise you are seeking a surrogate
advertise your "services" as a surrogate
operate a surrogacy "meeting centre" commerically

The first three laws de facto outlaw prostitution, while the latter three de facto outlaw surrogacy. But ultimately what happens between consenting individuals should be up to them.

http://www.surrogacyuk.org/whatissurrogacyc.html

Kate

http://www.economist.com/node/8345513

So - based on the fact that:

-There are fewer surrogate mothers in states and countries where commercial surrogacy is banned.

-The average surrogate earns between $10,000 and $35,000 for surrogacy.

-The average surrogate's annual income is between $6,000 to $55,000.

-And while a survey of surrogates indicated that 80% of respondants said that money wasn't the main motivator, the following questions on a surrogate mother forum indicate that money actually does...sorta...matter. http://www.surromomsonline.com/answers/11.htm

-The average cost of surrogate pregnancy for a couple desiring a surrogate child is $100,000.

So...in makes it acceptable for upper-middle class couples to provide financial incentives to young, lower class women to perform reproductive services and the practice "noble" and "not exploitative?"

What makes it is unacceptable for upper-middle class men to provide financial incentives to lower class women to perform sexual services, and what makes this institution "dirty," "exploitative," and "abusive towards women?"

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Kate

-There are fewer surrogate mothers in states and countries where commercial surrogacy is banned.

-The average surrogate earns between $10,000 and $35,000 for surrogacy.

-The average surrogate’s annual income is between $6,000 to $55,000.

-And while a survey of surrogates indicated that 80% of respondents said that money wasn’t the main motivator, the following questions on a surrogate mother forum indicate that money actually does…sorta…matter. http://www.surromomsonline.com/answers/11.htm

-The average cost of surrogate pregnancy for a couple desiring a surrogate child is $100,000.

So it's...wealthy couples. Wanting reproductive services. From lower-class women.

So…what makes it acceptable for upper-middle class couples to provide financial incentives to young, lower class women to perform reproductive services and why is this practice construed as “noble” and “not exploitative?”

What makes it is unacceptable for upper-middle class men to provide financial incentives to lower class women to perform sexual services, and what makes this institution “dirty,” “exploitative,” and “abusive towards women?”

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Ray Gaetano

What are you going to sell. There is a spare kidney and a spare eye so to speak. Then there is bone marrow.

Heart only one, maybe spare ear? Liver, only one.

Now organs from dead relitives opens up a whole new inventory.

pawnman

Part of your liver. In extreme cases, one lung. Not to mention, instead of becoming an organ donor to a random person, you could have a contract with someone on a waiting list that says "If I die, this person gets these organs and my family gets $x".

Shane

Interesting, and fascinating perspective from Kate commenting above.

Meanwhile, from the article:

"Even Catholics were for it."

I'm a little confused that this is apparently surprising! Catholics are unusually opposed to organ trade?

Dmitry Mazin

I said that because Catholics seem to be most vocal when it comes to repugnance.
Maybe he backpedaled later, but Pope John Paul II said "it is obvious that vital organs can only be donated after death"

To make my main point from the speech, in the US the ratio of people added to the list to people removed from the list by successful transplant is approaching 2:1. Meanwhile, Iran eradicated its kidney waiting list in 1999 by creating a regulated compensation system for kidney donations.

Shane

Nice one, interesting stuff Dmitry, I hadn't heard that about John Paul II before.

Amy Meeker

This is a great topic :)...I was just reading about our health care reform and I think I have come up with a way to save our country billions. Ok....so no one in congress or our government wants to really address the mal practice issue here in America because if you upset the lawyers you lose most of your contributions for your campaigning ideas. I also know that our dialysis costs are outrageous and we all know it goes to an area in health care that will still have poor outcomes when we could be spending the money in prevention instead. We also know that there are so many people in need of kidneys and if there were enough kidneys available this would decrease our costs on dialysis.

I think that before anyone graduates law school that they should donate a kidney. That way we have kidneys for everyone...

people really only need one kidney, we spare the lawyers life instead of having to kill them all off, Medicare can actually start spending more money on prevention and in the long run everyone lives a healthier life with the improved community preventative clinics and education material we now can afford to send out to the people in our country. Just an idea.....

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Neil Craig

Problem is not so much voluntary trade but organlegging. We know that NATO allowed their police (formerly the NATO armed KLA, before that drug lords, pimps and people released fromm New York prisons) to dissect at least 1,300 people, while still alive, to provide organs for western hospitals.

If the people in command of that obscenity (Clinton and co) are friends of those in charge of keeping a legal organ selling business uncorrupt, how honest do you think it will be?

bianca

Funny! Recently, in my speech class, we had to give persuasive speeches. An acquaintance of mine mentioned she wanted to present on the topic of organ donation. I insisted she listen to the "You Say Repugnant..." podcast, and she loved it. The speech was a great success. It should be mentioned that I live in the liberal loving northeast, however!

Ben

I'd love to hear more about this Bible Belt in SoCal. I live in LA County and work in Orange County and I do feel that there is a distinct Jesus influence at my work place. It really creeps me out. And it's amazing the ramifications it has on basic rational thinking in the work place. So, anyway, yes, I think there is a Bible Belt in SoCal and it's somewhere in the OC. Maybe more centered around Anaheim (eg, not around the beach towns that you see in the reality shows).

Anyone have any more insight on the Bible Belt in SoCal?

Dmitry Mazin

I'm talking about the Inland Empire when I say 'Bible Belt'. Here in the Murrieta and Temecula area, there are seemingly more cars with religious bumper stickers than not. Our only "college" is a bible school.

Chris Sampson

I can't believe you people are even discussing this as a viable idea. Aren't there already far too many channels through which the poor can be exploited by the rich?

The problem comes when we consider that richer people assign a greater financial value to their health than poorer people, thus a small increase in the health of a rich person (say, from the purchase of an organ) could be equated to a large loss of health for the poor individual. The result of this being that the average level of health GOES DOWN!!!!

Any decent economist (who doesn't blindly follow free market principles like Levitt), should know that organ sale is a terrible and truly repugnant idea.

Kate

If anyone's interested in the ethics of the organ market, they should search Nancy Sheper Hughes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4tAx8jedEA&NR=1

Tom Mone

Being Catholic does not mean "speaking for Catholics" and the Catholic church opposes payment for organs, especially because it has led to dramatic abuse of the poor in Pakistan, India, Iran, South America, and everywhere it has been practiced, as measured by complications, morbidity, mortality, and post-organ sale regret as measured in publishe surveys of paid "donors".

Interestingly, Catholic countries have the highest decesed donation rate in the world, except for the US....where more than 70% who can donate at death actually do so...will payment to families help increase this? Not if you believe families who say No...and say they don't want their loved one to be "cut up" or "suffer".

As for paying living donors for kidneys in the US, why should we expect the poor would not become organ farms for the rich? Are YOU OK with that? What if the anticiption that the poor will provide organs caused the rich to decide to not donate...a reasonable risk?

How about we keep the transaction on the playing field of health...give a kidney, receive free healthcare for life...regardless of Medicare's or Obamacare's future? That way there is no motivation for a short term gain at long-term expense to the donor, rather a life-long decision with a life-long benefit...

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