Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2321771
 


 



Perceptions of Efficacy, Morality, and Politics of Potential Cadaveric Organ Transplantation Reforms


Christopher T. Robertson


University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics

David V. Yokum


University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Arizona - College of Science

Megan S. Wright


University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

November 17, 2013

77 Law and Contemporary Problems (forthcoming 2014)
Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 13-44

Abstract:     
We sought to explore the political feasibility of potential policy reforms to address the shortage of cadaveric organs for transplantation in America. We recruited 730 human subjects from an online population and assigned them to writing tasks that experimentally manipulated the salience of moral and posthumous risks. Subjects read 95-word descriptions of six proposed policy reforms, rating efficacy, morality, and overall support for each. We created weighted estimates of the overall potential support for each reform (WEOS), correcting for the skew in our study population to approximate the political affiliations of the American public.

The data suggest that cultural cognition and perceptions of risk do not drive policy choices about organ reform. Qualitatively, the writing tasks revealed some ambivalence about the risk of having life-saving organs harvested without consent, and tangible frustration about the risk of a loved one dying for lack of a needed organ.

We found that Democrats were generally more supportive of reforms, while Independents were less supportive, and Republicans were middling in their support. In particular, we found support for the proposal to make the deceased person’s own organ choices controlling rather than deferring to next of kin (WEOS: 54%, with Democrat and Republican levels of support indistinguishable). Respondents did not see personal choice as particularly efficacious for resolving the shortage, but nonetheless morally important. In contrast, respondents perceived opt-out to be highly effective, but morally disconcerting. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats supported opt-out, and nearly half of Republicans did so, a significant difference. Two-thirds of Independents were opposed, however, drawing the WEOS down to 46%.

Even more clearly, we found broad consensus that a regulated market for organs could be effective but would be deeply problematic morally (WEOS: 16%, with no detectable political split). On the other hand, another incentive, the payment of vouchers for funeral expenses, enjoyed stronger support (WEOS: 51% with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans supporting the proposal, but with the former even more so, a 14% split). The voucher assuages moral objections about the market while maintaining apparent efficacy.

Our study also suggests that a package of reforms – including reciprocal preferences, opt-out, and elimination of the family veto – may be feasible politically (WEOS: 53%, and no political split detectable). This package of reforms neutralizes moral objections to a reform based on reciprocal preferences alone (WEOS: 41%, with a significant 10% split along party lines).

This study is best understood as a pilot for a future study with a demographically-valid sample. Still, the richness of the data suggests that Americans make nuanced policy distinctions, which depend on how proposals are packaged. There may be significant levels of support across the political spectrum for several reforms that could reduce the shortage of organs.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: cadaveric organs, transplant, market for organs, organ shortages, policy, reforms

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: September 7, 2013 ; Last revised: November 19, 2013

Suggested Citation

Robertson, Christopher T. and Yokum, David V. and Wright, Megan S., Perceptions of Efficacy, Morality, and Politics of Potential Cadaveric Organ Transplantation Reforms (November 17, 2013). 77 Law and Contemporary Problems (forthcoming 2014); Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 13-44. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2321771

Contact Information

Christopher T. Robertson (Contact Author)
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.arizona.edu/faculty/getprofile.cfm?facultyid=714

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics ( email )
23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02155
United States
David V. Yokum
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
University of Arizona - College of Science ( email )
1040 E. Fourth Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077
United States
Megan S. Wright
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 292
Downloads: 40

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.281 seconds