It's been reported that two Canadian companies are willing to pay blood donors to get their plasma. Plasma is used to produce immunoglobulin, a high-cost treatment for diseases that include cancer. Is there something inherently wrong in commodifying and commercializing the human body, selling our organs or tissues? Some people believe it offends human dignity to treat the body as an object and just another item for sale. Others see respect for individual autonomy and choice as required to respect human dignity and allowing sale as necessary to honour these values. These two positions focus at different levels and embrace different concepts of human dignity.
(op-ed by Margaret Somerville, director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law)