Debate: Should the law of Scotland permit the sale of human organs and tissues, by Morgan Reilly

IMG_1081_BWPhotos by Joshua Graf.

On Thursday afternoon, in Lecture Hall 270, at Old College a debate took place between Edinburgh and Glasgow University. The question debated was, ‘Should Scotland legalise the sale of human organs?’ There is no doubt that any debate between the rival Scottish Universities would be heated but on this topic the law students had strong and fiery arguments.

From the outset I was of the same stance as Edinburgh – No, Scotland should not legalise the sale of human organs. However, by attending this event I was able to strengthen my argument and reason as to why I believe this. The primary reason for my ‘no’ answer is that it would encourage those from lower social classes to put their life at risk for economic reasons rather than encouraging all people to consider donating. Nevertheless, there is an issue in Scotland where there is not enough donors for the people in need of help – this perhaps could be solved by an opt-out donor system rather than our current opt-in program.

Glasgow put forward a convincing argument and at times I nearly found myself swayed to their opinion. But, there is an alternative to this system which could lead to a dangerous commitment to sell body parts from people who have little other means of making money. This is not what donating should be about and there there is an alternative option with the idea of an opt in system. It was even more positive to hear that with ongoing medical there could be artificial kidneys available to those in need.

At the end of the debate it was very obvious to the participants, audience and chairman, who stated that, it wasn’t about winning the debate but the importance of discussing such issues. People have different ideas and opinions and so, debates like the one today, must take place.


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