Beyond Scarcity: Poverty as a Contraindication for Organ Transplantation
Virtual Mentor American Medical Association Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 405-469, June 2007
Posted: 5 Jun 2007
In almost every aspect of society, the resource-rich have an advantage over the resource-poor. The richer people are, the longer and healthier are their lives. The philosopher Norman Daniels has argued that social policies are responsible for the inequalities that produce health disparities and suggests that we must look upstream from the point of medical delivery when examining the fairness of the distribution of these goods. Daniels uses Rawls' theory of justice as fairness as the basis for his argument that health care is morally unique because it protects an individual's equality of opportunity:
The central moral importance, for purposes of justice, of preventing and treating disease and disability with effective health care services derives from the way in which protecting normal functioning contributes to protecting opportunity by keeping people close to normal functioning, health care preserves for people the ability to participate in the political, social and economic life of their society.
That is, by keeping people close to normal functioning, medicine also aims at the goal of protecting their equality of opportunity. In this policy forum, I consider the extent to which medicine has met this goal in the area of organ transplantation.
Keywords: organ transplantation, justice, fairness, goals of medicine
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