Ducking Responsibility:

One of the main commenters who is defending the organ compensation ban posted this item:

[W]e're not "letting them die", anymore than we are "letting die" all the people who die due to DWIs or gun violence because we decide not to completely ban cars or guns. Society is not responsible for those deaths. The illness or accident which damaged their kidneys or hearts or lungs is responsible for the death.

Good heavens — how can this possibly be right? The law makes paying for organs into a federal felony. Everyone involved in the process can be sent to prison. It isn't just that the law steps aside and fails to ban some dangerous-but-useful tool. The law affirmatively steps in to prohibit the main tool that people use to get others to help them (especially when the help comes at some expense to the helper): the payment of compensation.

How can those that back the law then refuse responsibility for this? Perhaps the bans can be defended on the grounds that there's a very important reason behind them, important enough to justify letting people die for want of organs. (I respond to such arguments elsewhere in this chain of posts.) But to say "it's not the law's fault, it's the fault of the disease" makes no moral sense.

If you want analogies, there are plenty. Say the law bars anyone from paying for life-saving abortions; predictably, fewer doctors choose to perform the abortions; as a result, a woman dies because no doctor is available. Would we say that the law isn't responsible for the death, and only the underlying health condition is responsible for the death? We might say that if the matter was simply the government's not paying for such abortions, but not when the government steps in to prohibit all private payment.

Likewise, say the law makes it a federal felony to pay for bodyguard services. A woman who had gotten death threats and who would have wanted to hire a bodyguard gets killed. Would we say that the law isn't responsible for the death, and only the killer is responsible for the death? (I mean, as the commenter meant, morally responsible and not legally responsible via the tort system.) Of course not. Yet given that we see how banning compensation for life-saving actions jeopardizes people's lives, how can we refuse to see that when the life-saving action is the provision of an organ?