The inviolateness of life and equal protection: a defense of the dead-donor rule

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 43 (1):1-27 (2022)
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There are increasing calls for rejecting the ‘dead donor’ rule and permitting ‘organ donation euthanasia’ in organ transplantation. I argue that the fundamental problem with this proposal is that it would bestow more worth on the organs than the donor who has them. What is at stake is the basis of human equality, which, I argue, should be based on an ineliminable dignity that each of us has in virtue of having a rational nature. To allow mortal harvesting would be to make our worth contingent upon variable quality of life of judgments that can only be based on properties that come in degrees. Thus, rejecting the ‘dead donor’ rule comes at the expense of our egalitarian principles with respect to the value each individual human life has in relation to the protections against killing.

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Adam Omelianchuk
Baylor College of Medicine


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