Supplying Human Body Parts: A Jewish Law Perspective

Steven H. Resnicoff

DePaul University College of Law

June 29, 2008

DEPAUL LAW REVIEW, Vol. 55, pp. 851, 2006

This article explores two related, but distinct, questions: (1) whether, under Jewish law, it is ethical for someone to buy or sell human body parts, and (2) whether, given Jewish law's perspective, it would be appropriate for the United States to adopt a distribution system that would give preference to people who volunteer to be prospective donors.

These questions should interest three different kinds of people: (1) those who seek to abide by Jewish law and, therefore, need to know its rules; (2) those who respect Jewish law, who are curious about it, and who might be persuaded by its teachings; and (3) those who, even if they neither follow nor respect Jewish law, are nonetheless concerned lest secular law unnecessarily, and painfully, impinge upon the religious values of those who do. This last group, perhaps the largest, needs to know what Jewish law prescribes in order to ensure that secular law is carefully circumscribed to avoid any needless conflict.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: Jewish law, organ transfers, body parts, distribution system, preferences, reciprocity, religious freedom, autonomy, ethics, definition of death, brain death, halakha, Harvard criteria, live donors, cadavaric donors, sanctity of life, human dignity

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Date posted: June 30, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Resnicoff, Steven H., Supplying Human Body Parts: A Jewish Law Perspective (June 29, 2008). DEPAUL LAW REVIEW, Vol. 55, pp. 851, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1153172

Contact Information

Steven H. Resnicoff (Contact Author)
DePaul University College of Law ( email )
25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8137 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

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