Does Remuneration for Plasma Compromise Autonomy?

HEC Forum 27 (4):387-400 (2015)
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In accordance with a recent statement released by the World Health Organization, the Canadian province of Ontario is moving to ban payment for plasma donation. This is partially based on contentions that remuneration for blood and blood products undermines autonomy and personal dignity. This paper is dedicated to evaluating this claim. I suggest that traditional autonomy-based arguments against commodification of human body parts and substances are less compelling in the context of plasma donation in Canada, but that there is another autonomy-based objection to paid plasma donation that has not received sufficient attention. Namely, the stigma that surrounds exchanging plasma for payment makes it difficult to make an autonomous decision to engage in this activity. I suggest that this problem can be overcome in one of two ways; by banning payment for plasma, or by reducing the stigma surrounding this practice. I provide an indication of how we might work to achieve the latter, contending that this possibility should be taken seriously, due to the difficulties in achieving a sufficient supply of plasma without remuneration

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Lucie White
Utrecht University


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