We had a long discussion in my Property class about the ownership rights over one’s body.
In a landmark case in 1990, the Supreme Court of California decided that in most cases we retain zero property rights in things that leave our body (w/ exceptions). In other words, we own our pancreas when it is inside of us, but once it is out, we have zero control. In the case, a man had a rare cell line that was ultimately used for ground-breaking research. Years later, when the man found out that his line was potentially worth billions, he sued. The court ruled that the man had zero rights over the cells once they were removed from his body during leukemia-related surgery.
The ramifications of the ruling were far reaching. IF the court had decided otherwise, two big areas would have been left open: (1) Medical researchers might have the impossibly arduous task of confirming ownership rights over each and every cell that they use ; (2) The sale of one’s body parts might be lawful.
It was a fascinating discussion. I’m curious about your thoughts on the second potential ramification.
Should we be able to sell our kidneys?
We’ve got two. We can live with one. Thousands die each year in waiting.
What do you think?