This article arrives from the Vatican talks between China and the Roman Catholic Church, as China attempts to “convince the world” that they will no longer harvest organs from death row inmates. China has historically used this system to gather and distribute organs, without getting the consent of the inmates. China allegedly stopped this practice of organ harvesting and trafficking a few years ago, but there is still much doubt about that.
I chose to blog about this article because of the serious ethical challenges it presents to us. At first glance it may seem easy to say that it’s wrong. It must be wrong, right? We’re not harvesting inmates for their organs in America and we seem to be doing alright. What is hard to consider is the massive difference in population and incarceration. When you have a massive population, you have a massive amount of demands to meet.
For this ethical dilemma I would like to take a Utilitarianism approach to look at the issue. China has inmates that are on death row and are going live out the rest of those years in prison, until they are executed. They are people who are not on death row, and are in need of transplants in order to live out their lives. The difficulty is measuring out the net utility or happiness. Those who live a more dutiful life and are not on death row could potentially live a more fruitful life and even create a family. The prisoners are condemned to their space and will die in prison. I’m having a hard to determining if one clearly has more utility than the other. The man in prison could be very happy and is no longer a threat to society. The man dying who needs a transplant could potentially have children and create more utility that way. However, he could also become a menace to society and harm others, diminishing the net utility. Both men are suffering and neither deserve to die. I think that no action would provide the most amount of utility.
Getting back to the article, China needs to publicly address this issue and provide a clear view on what they are doing to in the future to stop this harvesting program. The killing of a man to save another man is not a just cause.