Cohen in Newsweek: On Human Organ Sales

Offering compensation to an individual would result in a larger number of human organs available for those who require lifesaving organ transplants maintains Professor Lloyd Cohen.

Cohen told Newsweek, "If you pay people for something, they will provide more of it." He is a long-standing advocate of a market approach to organ donation and believes that those on long wait lists for transplants would benefit.

Under current U.S. law, individuals are prohibited from buying or selling human organs, despite the large number of people awaiting transplants, many of whom will die or become too sick to qualify for a transplant long before an organ becomes available to them.

Are Kidneys a Commodity? Newsweek, May 26, 2008. By Jerry Adler.

"Cohen is a professor of law at George Mason University who for two decades has been fighting for the right to sell off his major organs--or to buy one from someone else, should he need it. These are practices currently prohibited by U.S. law, and widely reviled by doctors, who like to believe they occupy one of the last bastions of selfless altruism in the American economy. Last week Cohen took his case to Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2), the Oxford-style debating society with a fondness for provocative libertarian issues, such as legalizing a market for human organs. Cohen has made his case at length in articles and books, but he can summarize it in a dozen words: 'If you pay people for something, they will provide more of it.' This, he says, is as true of body parts as anything else.

"How far is Cohen willing to push this argument? Well, he's publicized a codicil to his will that forbids his survivors from donating his organs for transplant, except to relatives, or if some third party, such as an insurance company, pays for them. At a minimum, he'd like to legalize such arrangements, so anyone could contract to sell his or her organs after death for the benefit of survivors."

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