Arguing from Analogy? Invoking the Human Trafficking Model for Organs

Posted: 9 Sep 2009 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010

See all articles by Mary Simmerling

Mary Simmerling

Adler University; Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medical College

Date Written: February 13, 2009


Beginning with the premise that human trafficking is a serious human rights violation, this manuscript uses existing literature and case studies to examine the extent to which organ trafficking is analogous to human trafficking. Specifically, I argue that the definition of organ trafficking that has been proposed in the literature does not adequately account for the practical and philosophical differences between human trafficking and organ trafficking. Importantly, it fails to distinguish the harms of exploitation from those of coercion. Related to this, it effectively reduces all commercialization to trafficking. A more nuanced understanding of the harms to persons who are victims of trafficking is needed to inform discussions about the extent to which the analogy is useful in developing public policy and law in this area.

Keywords: organ transplantation, human trafficking, human rights, ethics, justice

Suggested Citation

Simmerling, Mary, Arguing from Analogy? Invoking the Human Trafficking Model for Organs (February 13, 2009). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Mary Simmerling (Contact Author)

Adler University ( email )

17 N. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medical College ( email )

1300 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065
United States

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