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Keywords:

  • bioethics;
  • developing world;
  • health systems;
  • informed consent;
  • justice;
  • resource allocation;
  • rights

ABSTRACT

The debate concerning whether to legalize and regulate the global market in human organs is hindered by a lack of adequate bioethical language. The author argues that the preferential option for the poor, a theological category, can provide the grounding for an inductive moral epistemology adequate for reforming the use of culturally Western bioethical language. He proposes that the traditional, Western concept of bioethical coercion ought to be modified and expanded because the conditions of the market system, as viewed from the perspective of organ vendors systemically deprived of access to sufficient resources, are sufficiently exploitative as to diminish the possibility of these vendors giving informed consent. Moreover, empirical studies conducted by professionals in medicine, sociology, psychiatry, economics, and medical anthropology continue to contribute support to the growing interdisciplinary consensus that functionally coercive structural factors exert the most significant influence upon a vendor's decision to sell an organ within any market, regardless of legality or degree of regulation. Therefore any proposal to legalize and regulate the organ market remains patently unethical because doing so would likely function to constrain further the agency of poor potential vendors.