One further question is whether the state – in the UK, through the NHS – should itself enter the market. I see no strong reason why it shouldn’t. A weightier question is whether state regulation should involve price-setting or restrictions on sales designed to make the most effective use of available body parts. I’m inclined myself to think that it should, since the state should always be seeking to produce the best and justest outcomes for its citizens as a whole. Mill himself says clearly in On Liberty that his liberal principle is justified through its promotion of the good of all, and that is equally true of market principles governing the sale of body parts or indeed anything else.
One common objection to the sale of body parts is that it will bring about or constitute the ‘commodification’ of the body. There certainly do seem to be good arguments for seeking to prevent market principles from dominating certain areas of human life – personal relationships are again a particularly clear example. We all need friends. Imagine a world in which any time with your acquaintances had to be bought at the market rate. Spontaneity, generosity, and love must be protected. But often there seems no real case against commodification. Consider people’s talents. Most of us think that anyone with a particular talent – for window-cleaning, accounting, or playing football – should be allowed to market the exercise of that talent as they wish (within the rules and regulations of their chosen occupation, of course, such as those concerning ‘transfer windows’ in the English football league). On the face of it, body parts seem much more like talents than friendship.
But there seems to me to be a much stronger argument in favour of sale of body parts. People have a right to make a decision to sell a body part. If we should be allowed to sell our labour, why not sell the means to that labour? If we should be allowed to risk damaging our body for pleasure (by smoking or skiing), why not for money which we will use to realise other goods in life? To ban a market in organs is, paradoxically, to constrain what people can do with their own lives.
“I have been involved for decades in the effort to expose the evidence that the abortion industry sells the body parts of the babies it kills,” Fr. Pavone stated, “and I welcome this new evidence provided by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. The undercover videos and documentation, which have begun to be publicized today, show how people at the highest levels of Planned Parenthood are negotiating the sale of body parts, and adjusting the way they perform abortions so that the body parts are more accessible. This violates both the law and the most basic sense of human decency.”