On the Human Body as Property: The Meaning of Embodiment, Markets, and the Meaning of Strangers
For as long as I can recall, newspapers have published brief items in which someone has calculated what the human body is “worth” on the open market. The value of the body-as reduced to its chemical components-was never more than a few dollars. A more accurate accounting, though, would include the market value of transplantable organs and tissues, as well as the potential bonanza to be had should a cell line cultured from that body prove valuable to the biotechnology industry. The bottom line could be anywhere from tens of thousands to perhaps millions of dollars.
Both moral and legal questions arise. Would it be a good practice for people to be buying and selling their body parts? What attitude should the law take towards potential markets in human body parts? This Article will focus on the moral question, although both common and statutory law governing the treatment of the body are in part manifestations of prevailing moral views about the body, and will be discussed as such.