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China Plans To Stop Harvesting Organs From Executed Prisoners

timothy posted 1 year,1 day | from the seriously-just-one-more-then-we'll-stop dept.

China 200

cold fjord writes "The People's Republic of China continues its long march toward liberalization with two steps forward (And one+ step back?). The BBC reports, 'A senior Chinese official has said the country will phase out the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners from November. Huang Jiefu said China would now rely on using organs from voluntary donors under a new national donation system. Prisoners used to account for two-thirds of transplant organs, based on previous estimates from state media. For years, China denied that it used organs from executed prisoners, but admitted it a few years ago... Human rights groups estimate that China executes thousands of prisoners a year, but correspondents say that the official figures remain a state secret.'"

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Don't we all (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617027)

I plan to stop drawing water from my well, once it runs dry.

I have a suspicion that the "voluntary donor program" means "we're going to shoot you anyway, but we won't charge your family for the bullet if you volunteer to let us harvest your organs."

Re:Don't we all (2)

PyroPenguin (827234) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617333)

Correct...prisoners in China will now have 2 options... 1) sign up for voluntary donor program with the complementary bullet 2) 48 hours of non-stop Justin Bieber & One Direction with a dull rusty knife, courtesy charge of $199.88 to your family.

Re:Don't we all (1)

bobbied (2522392) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617467)

No, it actually means: "You are going to die, would you rather be executed or undergo a medical procedure?"

Their hosts actually made it sound appealing (1)

Provocateur (133110) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617895)

How would you like to earn money while you're inside, doing
absolutely nothing?

Re:Their hosts actually made it sound appealing (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618161)

How would you like to earn money while you're inside, doing
absolutely nothing?

So this is the meaning of those youtube spam messages on every video that claim, "earn money at home while doing nothing".

I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

Grog6 (85859) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617661)

The US Govt is going to pick this up, just in time for the elections.

I'm sure the Prison Corporations will be in favor; as well as all the greedy politicians.

It's not like it's legal, or anything, but Really; when has that stopped them from doing something?

Welcome to the New World Order; where you ARE Fries with that.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617847)

The US Govt is going to pick this up, just in time for the elections.

I'm sure the Prison Corporations will be in favor; as well as all the greedy politicians.

It's not like it's legal, or anything, but Really; when has that stopped them from doing something?

Actually, all hyperbole aside, my thoughts were "why are they stopping this and why aren't WE in the US doing this?"

It sounds like a great idea. If someone is going to die anyway, after exhausting the judicial system (again speaking for the US), why waste these organs that could go to help the many people on the waiting lists?

It seems a waste to lose such a vital resource that could help the lives of many innocent people.

Most people are on death row for taking lives unjustly (premeditated murder, etc), why not use this as a method for them to give life to others?

Seems like it would balance out the karma in life a bit, no?

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (5, Insightful)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618021)

People who take lives and have forfeited theirs (if you agree with the idea of capital punishment in the first place) are still humans, with basic human rights. Taking their organs without their permission, or coercing them into "donating" would not pass constitutional scrutiny in the U.S., and would probably be deemed "cruel and unusual."

We could always amend the Constitution, but while I enjoy Larry Niven's Known Space stories, I wouldn't like to give government an incentive to harvest the organs of citizens. Look at for-profit prisons, which already have a large and powerful lobby. Imagine an organ-trading industry, always hungry for fresh meat.

And since there's no such thing as "karma", no, that's not a good reason either.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618071)

Human rights don't (or shouldn't) exist for those who are dead.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618237)

Taking life-saving organs that would otherwise rot and be wasted from a sack of dead meat = cruelty? To the dead meat?

By the way, while wasteful, shooting a dead cow hung on a hook in a warehouse cannot be called 'animal cruelty', due to the same distinction.

Granted, if a corpse is to be frozen so that it can one day be repaired and revived, that's a different matter. ...hmm, and by default, perhaps organs would automatically be part of a person's estate, for relatives to sell (after paying inheritance tax)... and they /could/ bury those valuables organs and leave them to rot, or burn them in an incinerator, but still have had to pay tax on the high market value of the organs they inherited from the person who died and so doesn't own them any more...

It would be encouraging if this provided an incentive to properly manage these assets, making sure that they're used for all they're worth, rather than casually doing away with them while people on transplant waiting lists cry in the background. I have a mental image of Marie Antoinette tossing an early-leaving party guest's giant cake into a fire while the hungry look on. If you have to pay inheritance tax on something you receive, maybe you'll value it more and be less flippant about disposing of it carelessly...

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618639)

"People who take lives and have forfeited theirs "
so all the soldier should die?

"(if you agree with the idea of capital punishment in the first place"
I don't anymore. With what we know about the brain no one should. That said, if we are going to have it then it need to meet an even higher bar.

" "cruel and unusual.""
How can you be "cruel and unusual." to a dead person?

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618035)

those were my thoughts and reactions too.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618057)

Actually, all hyperbole aside, my thoughts were "why are they stopping this and why aren't WE in the US doing this?"

It sounds like a great idea. If someone is going to die anyway, after exhausting the judicial system (again speaking for the US), why waste these organs that could go to help the many people on the waiting lists?

This is a terrible idea. Some serial killer prisoner has his/her organs harvested and given to an unsuspecting person in need of a new organ. That unsuspecting person then starts acting strangely and before you know it they're a serial killer too. Now, consider how many people made use of the prisoner's organs!! Oh my god.

Source: B movies.

The death penalty is a little different there (5, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618067)

Are you seriously wondering why they are stopping?

You seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that the death penalty is the same there as it is here. In China, they routinely execute political dissidents, politically-active members of disfavored minority groups, thieves, embezzlers, etc. Any trial that occurs is rather perfunctory. Yes, there are your typical death-row murderers and rapists too, but the high-volume organ supply comes from political prisoners, as they are easier to "warehouse" due to being less violent. They have their blood tested after arrest, and then are executed when a customer requires an organ.

Re:The death penalty is a little different there (1)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618665)

That's a great reason to stop killing but if the are doing it anyways, i seems wasteful.

"They have their blood tested after arrest, and then are executed when a customer requires an organ."
haha. You need to stop listening to the crazy train.

Re: The death penalty is a little different there (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618793)

This is true. I had all my organs harvested and this is exactly what happened.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618159)

It sounds like a great idea.

So do private prisons. Conflict of interest, anyone? "We need more organs!" "OK, we'll make up some sentences."

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618321)

Somebody already wrote that SF story. Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man". They execute people (and harvest their organs) for all sorts of minor crimes.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618165)

as long as they don't start killing people only for their organs

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618209)

And when someone is on death row, but innocent, what will you do then?

Just a couple from my country, I'm certain in the US there's plenty more since they still practice capital punishment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Napolitano
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Truscott

The recipient of those organs is much more likely to commit suicide, is what is going to happen. This doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

rainer_d (115765) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618341)

The US Govt is going to pick this up, just in time for the elections.

I'm sure the Prison Corporations will be in favor; as well as all the greedy politicians.

It's not like it's legal, or anything, but Really; when has that stopped them from doing something?

Actually, all hyperbole aside, my thoughts were "why are they stopping this and why aren't WE in the US doing this?"

Trial-periods and time spent in prison before execution is much shorter in China.
In China, the verdict is usually "final" on the spot and execution follows swiftly.
Most inmates in the US and Europe probably have some sort of infectious disease (from sharing needles, drugs, etc.pp.) that they acquired in the years waiting for the verdict and the appeal and the appeal to the appeal....

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (2)

N1AK (864906) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618463)

Most people are on death row for taking lives unjustly (premeditated murder, etc), why not use this as a method for them to give life to others?

Having a voluntary system is one thing, as long as it is genuinely 100% voluntary.

The issue with any other system is that it offers a perverse incentive to execute more people. It is also immoral in my opinion to treat other people as your property to do with as you please, even in death.

Ignoring deeper ethics questions it'd also be pretty pointless. Very few people are executed in the US and the methods are virtually all incompatible with donation. You'd have to get the method of execution changed in multiple states.

Do you want to know how to get massively more organ donors: Add an organ donor opt-out tick-box to the next to the driving license application form and renewal form. Something like 90% of people (based on research not pulled out of my ass) will not tick the box. Combine that with giving donors (and people with medical exemptions) priority in the waiting line for organs. Either of these measures would be more than enough to solve a donor shortage issue and will provide orders of magnitude more organs than culling prisoners.

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (2)

Grelfod (1222108) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618473)

Because the typical execution of prisoners in America poisons all the organs....
And the fact that they usually sit in prison for 10 - 30 years waiting for the execution (puts a lot of miles on what may have once been healthy young viable organs)

Re:I hear they're outsourcing it... (1)

Jessified (1150003) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618819)

Lol it's bad enough that black people are already disproprotionately executed. Now you want to add a financial incentive to the for-profit prison model by harvesting organs? What could go wrong?

"Whhhhhhhhhat? You're telling me we could be getting paid for executing black people? Where do I sign up?!"

Sorry (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617043)

Sorry but morales aside. Why not harvest organs like this that can't be harvested from volunteers (without them dying). Go China.

Flame on

Re:Sorry (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617339)

I think it's silly too. They are dead prisoners, society should gain everything they can from them.

Prisoners in general should be made to work hard for society. Death row inmates should also be used for scientific experimentation, possibly in exchange for a reduced prison term.

Re:Sorry (0)

Golddess (1361003) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617537)

Death row inmates should also be used for scientific experimentation, possibly in exchange for a reduced prison term.

.....what? Do you mean, like, pushing out the date of their execution, or reducing it from execution to life in prison, or what?

Re:Sorry (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617723)

Society should work hard to avoid making prisoners criminals.

Re:Sorry (3, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617347)

I think one thought is that it creates incentive to push for the death penalty instead of just life in prison. But we'll see if it changes their execution rate (assuming those figures are released).

Re:Sorry (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617603)

Those figures are not released, but Amnesty International has estimates and will probably monitor it as intensively as they can.

Re:Sorry (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618741)

Sorry but morales aside. Why not harvest organs like this that can't be harvested from volunteers (without them dying). Go China.

Flame on

Two problems:
1. It creates a perverse incentive to execute more people.
2. It creates a negative stigma for organ donors.
Getting people to volunteer as organ donors, or even as blood donors, is a big problem in China. Volunteerism is not part of their culture, and giving up part of your body is considered a desecration. Even in America, Asian-Americans, and Chinese in particular, donate organs, and donate blood, at very low rates.
I donate blood every eight weeks, and my Chinese wife always objects. She insists that I am shortening my life, even though there is plenty of evidence that blood donations are actually good for you [wikipedia.org] .

Um, why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617057)

That is an excellent idea. On top of that, I'd harvest a kidney from everyone with a life sentence or on death row.

Re:Um, why? (3, Informative)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617761)

There are many stories about generals who needed an organ so a prisoner incarcerated with a minor offense suddenly changed status to "death row" and was executed within days (no appeal).

I have no information on the validity of those stories, but once you grant people power there will be those who abuse it. If you don't know it, The Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org] may horrify you. There is a reason some experiments are not repeated. These were normal people.
The Milgram experiment [wikipedia.org] is repeated, although the implications are about as shocking. The psychological damage to the test subjects is less though.

Re:Um, why? (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617789)

Don't confuse people with facts. This is slashdot.

Re:Um, why? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618195)

It is also similar to the Prison-Industrial complex in the USA. It is profitable for private companies to imprison people, so lobby for more laws to imprison more people. Except in China the ??? step is "then kill them and harvest organs", before proceeding to profit.

I'll go ahead and say it (5, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617089)

If these prisoners were serial killers, rapists, murderers and other assorted bad guys, then I fully support using their organs to save lives. I find it poetic justice and a very fitting end for the life of a person who (possibly) killed so many others.

If these prisoners are political prisoners sentenced to death because they were at Tiannamen Square or oppose communism, then I welcome the end of such barbaric policies.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617185)

The problem, of course, is that once a government has this power, the government is the one able to decide who qualifies as a "serious criminal".

A non-violent revolutionary is much more dangerous (to the state) than a murderer.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617415)

A non-violent revolutionary is much more dangerous (to the state) than a murderer.

It seems to be the case in China indeed: the Falun-Gong practitioners are considered very dangerous (and provide their share of harvested organs...)

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617859)

The problem, of course, is that once a government has this power, the government is the one able to decide who qualifies as a "serious criminal".

A non-violent revolutionary is much more dangerous (to the state) than a murderer.

Ummmm... somehow I don't think it'll come to a balancing act between criminal/revolutionary... for the simple reason the emergency degree is given by the compatibility with the comrade(s) on the transplant waiting list.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617247)

Why is the case history salient when deciding whether or not a dead person's organs should be used?

The whole 'execution' phase seems like the place where the ethical problems would reside.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617515)

This is a complicating factor: China Admits Selling Prisoners’ Organs [go.com]

When the state can profit from your death, safeguards are weak, and charges that can lead to a death sentence are a trivial problem....

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617519)

Many Chinese believe that their bodies are given to them by their parents, so they should look after them. Losing your organs is considered part of the punishment.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617611)

I have no moral dilemma with executing the worst criminal offenders. Charles Manson, Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden, the world (is/would be) a better place without them in it. But I do not want to execute people who's only crime is exercising their God-given rights, like freedom, liberty, expressing an opinion. Being politically inconvenient to an oppressive communist regime is not a crime worthy of execution. Murdering 29 people and wearing their skin as clothing is.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617991)

Murdering 29 people and wearing their skin as clothing is.

What about murdering one person and burning his crocs?

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

DdJ (10790) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618591)

The whole 'execution' phase seems like the place where the ethical problems would reside.

It's very deeply related.

This news means China is going to give up some of the economic incentive for executing them. Over time, this should cause a reduction in executions as a side-effect.

(This should not be true of the justice system under discussion were completely free of corruption. So, you should absolutely take my assertions with a grain of salt at least proportional to the degree to which you consider China's justice system corruption-free.)

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617259)

The problem is corruption. If your tissues highly match a party leader or his child, he might bribe a judge to make sure you are found guilty or sentenced up to execution. Truth be damned.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617431)

It's funny to see how many of the same people who aggressively believe that that whiney wikileaker would be executed by the USA if he went to Sweden are arguing under the assumption that China would only ever execute criminals who objectively deserved the sentence.

Seriously, some of you need to learn a bit about the countries you idolize.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617291)

What does it matter what the crime was? Once the person is dead, for what ever wrong or right reason, that person does not need the organs anymore. It's a waste to burn or bury them. It's another issue who should get death punishment.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618023)

What does it matter what the crime was? Once the person is dead, for what ever wrong or right reason, that person does not need the organs anymore. It's a waste to burn or bury them. It's another issue who should get death punishment.

Very true.

The problem is that the reason the person is dead could very well be "he was a match for the judge's best friend who needed a new liver".

Realistically however the voluntary system doesn't actually change anything because if you're willing to execute someone to get an organ you're probably also willing to forge the consent form. So the likely result is going to be lower availability of organs, and little to no impact on the cherry picking prisoners for the elite's needs style corruption.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617349)

A big part of finding justice in the courtroom is the removal of motivations for denying justice. We saw in the US that for-profit prisons caused some judges to trade guilty verdicts for kick-backs. And if the profit also includes the possibility of human organs the motivation would be greater still. The consequences for crime certainly should be a temporary burden on the criminal, but allowing anyone to profit from a conviction is very dangerous to justice.

The real long-term solution for organ replacement is direct fabrication of the desired organ. And we aren't all that far off from that.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617955)

The real long-term solution for organ replacement is direct fabrication of the desired organ. And we aren't all that far off from that.

Ummm... define your expectation for "far"... my back-of-napkin optimistic calculations: 10 years to maturity+5-6 years FDA or other approvals + 20 years for the patents to expire and competition in the market to kick in.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (5, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617389)

If these prisoners were serial killers, rapists, murderers and other assorted bad guys, then I fully support using their organs to save lives. I find it poetic justice and a very fitting end for the life of a person who (possibly) killed so many others.

If these prisoners are political prisoners sentenced to death because they were at Tiannamen Square or oppose communism, then I welcome the end of such barbaric policies.

You, sir, just hit the head on the nail with why this kind of thing is a problem. As soon as you say "well, everyone has rights, except for *those people*, you end up creating a line. When you create that line, you also create the need for someone to determine who ends up on which side of that line. And as soon as you do that, you give someone the power to take rights away from someone else. That always ends poorly; this is why the Constitution of the United States refers to rights as being "inalienable," or, in other words, irrevocable by man. Technically, "inalienable" means "Not subject to sale or transfer; inseparable."

Once people are given the ability to take basic rights away, invariably at some point, that power will be abused. It just works out that way, and has done so in history over and over and over again. The problem isn't about when it's some serial killer/rapist who is gladly donating a spare kidney because he's genuinely sorry for all the harm he's done and at least wants to do something decent; that's like having weather alerts for nice days. The problem is how the system can be abused. Even more to the point, the system WAS abused, widely and profoundly, in China, which is why this is a story to begin with, in exactly the way you describe on the last line of your post. That's exactly my point.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (-1, Flamebait)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617695)

When you die, you no longer have rights. Why is it your right, after being executed, to retain your organs in tact while other people--criminals, the innocent, adults, children, and the elderly being retardedly protracted out in their expensive old age when they should just do society a favor and die already--are out there dying waiting on a liver transplant? You don't need it anymore; your next of kin and willed recipients are first in line, otherwise fuck off dead guy.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618541)

it's not about the dead, it's about the living. It creates an incentive to kill people because the organs inside them are wanted, so more people end up on death row suddenly. think of 4 pools, one of citizens, the next of prisoners, the next of death row inmates, and the next of organs. Each time a pool runs out of resources someone will put on pressure to pull in more from the pool that comes before it.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617725)

I mostly agree, except for one point. Once someone is convicted of a felony crime, they do loose certain rights. In the US, they loose the right to vote, own a firearm, most of their 4th and 5th amendment protections, etc. While I am not opposed to revoking the 2nd amendment rights of someone convicted of armed robbery, I am opposed to revoking someone's 2nd amendment rights because they are "politically inconvenient".

Do you notice the parallels to this issue and the NSA snooping (not to go off topic). In both cases, when the system is implemented "correctly" (executing violent murderers, snooping of terrorists), nobody has any issue with it. However, the citizenry is concerned with the potential for abuse of these systems. We know the Chinese system is being used for abusive purposes and it is outrageous. What happens when the NSA snooping is abused?

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617527)

If these prisoners were serial killers, rapists, murderers and other assorted bad guys, then I fully support using their organs to save lives. I find it poetic justice and a very fitting end for the life of a person who (possibly) killed so many others.

If these prisoners are political prisoners sentenced to death because they were at Tiannamen Square or oppose communism, then I welcome the end of such barbaric policies.

Wait a minute. You're saying that it's a great idea to do this if you find their crime morally objectionable, but not so if you don't agree with the crime? It's barbaric even! Either way, the prisoner is going to be dead and not be using their organs anymore. So either way it's a waste of their organs that could potentially help someone or even many people

Now the fact that someone is going to be executed for "political crimes". That is barbaric and what I find to be objectionable. I wish we had no need of capitol punishment and had some way to truly rehabilitate and help the mentally ill. But the fact is, is that there people who simply cannot be allowed to roam around killing and causing harm to others.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617807)

Murder is an action that is morally objectionable. The definition of the word means the unjustified killing of someone. It is not my standard, I didn't create it. That standard is present in every religion and moral philosophy and I would argue that 99% of the world agrees killing someone for no reason is wrong.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618393)

Murder is an action that is morally objectionable. The definition of the word means the unjustified killing of someone. It is not my standard, I didn't create it. That standard is present in every religion and moral philosophy and I would argue that 99% of the world agrees killing someone for no reason is wrong.

I agree that unjustifiably killing someone is wrong. But you didn't just state murder, You also mentioned rapists (which I agree with you and find equally abhorred) and "other assorted bad guys". Apparently the Chinese government lumps those who were at "Tiannamen Square or oppose communism" into that category.

My point was that if it's OK to harvest one group of peoples organs who won't be using them anymore, then it fine for the other group too. It's not the act of doing this that is barbaric. It is executing people who simply don't agree with their government and peacefully protesting it that is barbaric.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617581)

If the justice system were truly blind, then I too would be okay with the organs of executed prisoners being used. It's simply the practical thing to do, after all.

The problem is that it's not, and what this does is incentivize the execution of criminals (or, as the case may be, "criminals"), even if execution isn't warranted (whether or not it is ever warranted is outside the scope of this comment), since their death provides benefits to others. Those are exactly the sorts of things that you don't want to have influencing a justice system. At least with prison, everybody loses, since it costs the state a load to keep prisoners, and the prisoners, on the whole, have little desire to be in prison, meaning that there's a slight incentive to let someone off. But something like this encourages a disproportionate response and a rush to judgment, since it reduces the costs and increases the benefits of a conviction that leads to execution.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618087)

You support a penalty of death-by-organ-donation for rapists? Really? And what did the "other assorted bad guys" in your post do, drug dealing, armed robbery, theft?

Have you really thought this through, and are you actually that eager to carve up other people into spare parts? Do you want to live in a society that does that?

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (1)

the gnat (153162) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618537)

are you actually that eager to carve up other people into spare parts? Do you want to live in a society that does that?

I must say, I am shocked at the number of people posting here who support China's policy. Is there a sudden flood of postings from Texas high-school students, or something? I haven't seen this much sociopathy on display since someone tried to defend the execution of Islamic apostates a few months ago.

Every time one of these arguments comes up, I end up even more firmly convinced that we should abolish the death penalty without exception. I'd rather let mass murderers die of a ripe old age (in a small, windowless cell without books or TV, of course) than indulge the bloodlust of some of our upstanding citizens.

Re:I'll go ahead and say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618131)

i don't see how the reasons for a persons incarceration makes the organ harvesting barbaric. it's the reasons for incarceration that are barbaric. then again, i think incarceration is barbaric and should be replaced with the more civilized punishments of execution and indentured servitude.

Sir Arthur Conan the Barbarian

So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617153)

So they now first let the prisoners sign a document that they donate the organs?

Re:So ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617355)

Oh no... They just take the donations BEFORE the execution now... If you signed, then your death is not a result of an execution but a medical procedure...

It's all a ruse to lower the number of executions reported.

Opt-out systems (1)

SpaceMonkies (2868125) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617169)

"There are two main methods for determining voluntary consent: "opt in" (only those who have given explicit consent are donors) and "opt out" (anyone who has not refused is a donor). Opt-out legislative systems dramatically increase effective rates of consent for donation. For example, Germany, which uses an opt-in system, has an organ donation consent rate of 12% among its population, while Austria, a country with a very similar culture and economic development, but which uses an opt-out system, has a consent rate of 99.98%."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_donation [wikipedia.org]

How is an opt-out system for prisoners any different from the general populace?

Check out the new Slashdot iPad app [apple.com]

Re:Opt-out systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617457)

I wouldn't call that 99.98% a "consent rate". Rather it's a "not opted out" rate. It doesn't tell you how many didn't opt out by decision, and how many didn't opt out just because they never thought about that question. The latter group certainly didn't give any consent.

Everyone a donor (3, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617319)

I was surprised to learn that where I live, everyone is automatically considered an organ donor. The doctors can takes organs from my body when I die, even if my family object. If you object, you have to sign an opt-out.

Great system actually. The only way to avoid the horror stories of people being kidnapped for organs or, worse, the poor selling their organs, is to ensure there are enough donated organs available. A lot of people don't care about losing their organs after death, but requiring people to opt-in means that most just don't bother.

There were just two problems with China's policy. One is that the organs were given to the ruling class, rather than being distributed on a basis of need. The other is that it encourages judgements and policies which increase the number of people sentenced to death.

Re:Everyone a donor (2)

Nukenbar (215420) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617461)

Are any US states opt-out versus opt-in? Every state I have living in is opt-in. If we made most places opt-out, it seems like it would greatly increase the supply.

Re:Everyone a donor (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617529)

My state is opt-in, but if you opt-in you got a discount on your license. So it is incentivized opt-in.

Re:Everyone a donor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617631)

On the other side of the spectrum the opt-out system has its own share of horror stories: doctors not doing their best to save certain people and pronouncing them dead, because the patient's organs are compatible with someone on the waiting list who offered a sizable bribe.

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617659)

Would this be different with opt-in instead of opt-out?

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618215)

Yes, since only those making the conscious decision to risk being killed are taking part, and suicide is their business. Opt-out involves a certain amount of socialized murder

Re:Everyone a donor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617711)

Let's not resort to hyperbole - The facts are unpleasant enough (although understandable, perhaps).

There _have_ been cases reported in the media in which doctors have decided to discontinue life support for vegetative patients, that later turned out to be recoverable to at least a 'sort of ok' brain-damaged state, because they felt that optimizing the sum total quality of life (one dead, one in good health) was better than having one vegetative and one in poor health (donor, recipient).

Unfortunately, the next-of-kin of the 'vegetant' typically don't see it that way ;-)

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617719)

It's a risk decision tbh. Doctors will decide they have an 11% chance of saving you but a 97% chance of saving the 11 year old girl in the next room, so you're not worth saving.

some horror stories struggle to scare (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618043)

The local laws here require approval from three doctors with no connection to the recipient, the "donor" and who will have no role in the transplant operations. (In urgent cases, two doctors is enough.) A report has to be made, saying how death was established and that has to be kept on file for ten years.

I think that's as much as one can expect be done to safeguard against such corruption.

Also, the hospitals here are government funded, even the "private" ones, so there's more transparency and accountability than you'd get in countries with privatised systems, so I'm not worried about corruption, be it covert or systematic.

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617759)

Why shouldn't the organs be given to the smart people in society? They're the ones that we need to keep around. Are we just going to waste valuable organs on some nutsack who won't even stop drinking or smoking pot? Remember, China is run by scientists and engineers: people like us.

Everyone a recipient (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618153)

Oh.

I'm not a scientist or an engineer.

No organ transplants for me in your world.

(Health or lifestyle is already taken into account. Mentally handicapped people get kidney transplants ahead of heavy drinkers. That's the case in Ireland at least. I don't know exactly how the scoring system is devised.)

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

operagost (62405) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617855)

Great system actually. The only way to avoid the horror stories of people being kidnapped for organs or, worse, the poor selling their organs, is to ensure there are enough donated organs available.

So instead, we only have to worry about hospitals purposely letting you die so they can harvest your organs. If you object, please tell me how this can be avoided. We can't be little Polyannas who think doctors (and hospital administrators, who may not even have medical degrees) can and will do no wrong. Even well-meaning people can make callous decisions with the belief that it's for "the greater good". The Hippocratic oath simply so longer applies; it became the hypocritical oath a long time ago.

Re:Everyone a donor (2)

the gnat (153162) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618407)

So instead, we only have to worry about hospitals purposely letting you die so they can harvest your organs. If you object, please tell me how this can be avoided.

In the US, if a doctor deliberately lets you die so the hospital can harvest your organ, we call that "malpractice" and quite possibly "murder", and there are legal remedies for both of those offenses. In China, if the government executes someone and harvests his organs, it's called "preserving social stability", and there is no legal remedy because the state makes its own rules, and is notorious for locking up people who complain.

Doubtful assertion (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617903)

"One is that the organs were given to the ruling class"

That's very doubtful due to this pesky HLA thingy. The probability that 1000 death row prisoner HLA every year correspond to somebody of the "ruling class" is slim, unless you want to add a conspiracy theory that they chose the prisoner to be executed by their HLA. More likely only those who could have enough money for an operation would get the organ.

Re:Everyone a donor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617999)

There were just two problems with China's policy. One is that the organs were given to the ruling class, rather than being distributed on a basis of need. The other is that it encourages judgements and policies which increase the number of people sentenced to death.

Well, another problem is that they have capital punishment.

Re:Everyone a donor (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618003)

> The other is that it encourages judgements and policies which increase the number of people sentenced to death.

Well... probably not. Even in China, the wheels of justice turn at a glacial pace relative to organ-transplant timelines. Organ transplantation has timeframes measured in weeks... at most, a few months... from establishment of need to actual organ harvest. If you needed a lung transplant & had to wait for someone with matching compatible genotype to get arrested, convicted, and executed, you'd probably be dead long before they were.

China's policy *starts* once a prisoner is already on death row... they're genotyped, then kept alive until recipients are found for their organs. The system mostly works well, because it eliminates the rush to perform a transplant on short notice and the dependency on local availability. They can schedule the execution, harvesting, and transplant well in advance, and have everyone in place & ready to go before the prisoner gets executed.

The *real* ethical problem lies with the fact that there *are* at least a few people on death row in China whose crimes were for things that tend to make even death-penalty supporters cringe, including some political prisoners. Not a lot... but they do exist, have names, and can't be ignored.

If China were to modify the program to transparently guarantee that harvested organs came ONLY from executed prisoners convicted in a fair public trial of pure, untainted, honest-to-${deity} first-degree murder (one person plans the premature demise of another, and personally wields the murder that makes it happen), I'd venture a guess that the majority of opposition in those countries would vanish, and there would probably be calls to try and find a legal way to do the same thing in the US.

The problem, of course, is the increasingly slippery slope in the US towards seemingly casting a wider and wider net every year. In Texas, you can be convicted & condemned to death for merely being "involved" with a felony where somebody (even another criminal) dies. Stir in the trend of re-casting almost every serious crime (and plenty of more mundane ones) as "domestic terror", and you can see the 400-ton elephant in the room clad in a pink tutu & dancing under the disco ball.

Re:Everyone a donor (3, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618453)

China's policy *starts* once a prisoner is already on death row... they're genotyped, then kept alive until recipients are found for their organs. The system mostly works well, because it eliminates the rush to perform a transplant on short notice and the dependency on local availability. They can schedule the execution, harvesting, and transplant well in advance, and have everyone in place & ready to go before the prisoner gets executed... The *real* ethical problem

Holy shit, you think the fact that the victims may not actually deserve their fate is the only ethical problem? How about keeping people alive in detention indefinitely with the promise that eventually, one day, they'll be killed for their organs? That's fucking goulish, and far crueler than simply executing them immediately.

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618145)

Good compatible organs are always going to be scarce, and doctors, who are used to death and playing God, will not hesitate to kill you to take your organs to "sell" them by performing a high-priced transplant procedure. But I guess there are lots of people like you who enjoy sacrificing themselves for "something bigger". I recommend you watch the 2008 documentary Martyrs to see what more you could be doing!

Re:Everyone a donor (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618461)

The only people I've met who are scared by corruption or psychopaths in the health care system are people in countries where it's privatised.

Re:Everyone a donor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44618263)

Or, since you're explained clearly that organs are worth a lot of money, you could just pay people for them once they die. As in, a free funeral. Tasteful, appropriate, not an encouragement to go and have them removed while you're alive, *and* a good reason for your family to ask you to sign up for the donation.

Option two is to violate your right to your most sacred of property, your body. Let's just go with option two. I mean, there's no way a $100,000 transplant operation could possibly spare $1,000 for a funeral. No way, no how.

welp (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617477)

Feel conflicted.

1. Using utilitarian logic this is a loss. Now more people die or suffer reduced quality of life.
2. Using common sense logic this is a gain. Organs are so valuable that there are immoral incentives at work.

I think you cannot call this a clear cut human rights issue since there are two violations possible from contradictory perspectives.

Re:welp (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617749)

From a purely utilitarian perspective, one could even argue that killing an arbitrary person to save the life of two or more others with the organs is good (because the number of deaths is reduced).

Fortunately very few people follow a strict utilitarian logic.

How many was that again? (1)

SlithyMagister (822218) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617555)

from the article::
"Human rights groups estimate that China executes thousands of prisoners a year, but correspondents say that the official figures remain a state secret."

non-Google translation:
"Nobody knows -- not even the Chinese government -- how many prisoners are executed each year...

We don't need 'em anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617655)

3D printing solved the human replacement organ thing weeks ago. Space, here we come!

Just stop executions, full stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617739)

I would rather they stop excecuting people altogether. It is a tad medieval.

Re:Just stop executions, full stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617801)

People still act medieval. I think it's necessary sometimes. Not all people are created equal, despite the modern mythology.

Re:Just stop executions, full stop. (2)

macbeth66 (204889) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617825)

Off with your head!

Bad luck. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617769)

I wonder if recipients know where the organs are coming from. In my experience I'd expect them to be a bit wary about the source of those organs, what with the way they worry about bad luck, karma and all that.

lip service? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | 1 year,1 day | (#44617791)

are they actually planning to stop harvesting or are they just saying this to return to their previous state of denial? perhaps they devised a scheme to harvest organs covertly. if the bodies of the executed start(?) being cremated then it's plausible deniability.

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44617989)

...they just stopped executing people? Wouldn't that have a similar outcome?

Lexx (1)

Tsunayoshi (789351) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618069)

Am I the only one who though of the Lexx [wikipedia.org] after reading this?

Just need new spin ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618117)

All you need is better spin and propaganda.

Are we supposed to believe they're just going to stop doing this completely?

Or will they just come up with a new way to spin it -- "Comrade Yang, in contrition for his terrible crime of jaywalking has volunteered to be euthenized and have his organs harvested. He hopes the glorious People's Republic will accept his noble sacrifice as atonement for his transgressions." Forcing someone to sign the paperwork probably isn't that tough when you can get away with anything in secret and threaten people's families.

And then they'll be right back where they are now, but with better PR.

I'd like to think China is going to halt the practice. But in reality, it's probably quite lucrative, and power once held is seldom given up.

I suspect citizens waiting for a healthy organ (1, Insightful)

VAElynx (2001046) | 1 year,1 day | (#44618581)

must be overjoyed. Way to go! Let's waste even the single good thing that can come from those scheduled for execution.
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