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Medical Ethics/organ donation from death row inmates


QUESTION: I have to complete a thesis paper and the topic I have chosen is
I am not sure where to start doing this i want to have the voice of the inmate and I believe they should have the right to donate. if you could give me some direction as where to start i would appreciate it.


It is a really interesting question.  Ethics or Bioethics exist to keep a fiduciary (medical provider) from exploiting the vulnerable.  Prisoners, by definition, are vulnerable since they have very few options and are captive.  My second thought is whether the inmate has the decision making capacity to make this decision. The third issue to review is whether the inmate is, in essence, committing suicide and any provider that assists in that desire is providing physician assisted suicide.  You may wish to explore why it would be ethical for a provider to assist this individual for a utilitarian purpose (the greater good for the greater many).  Another consideration may be whether the transplant company should be involved in such a transaction since it may be seen as capitalizing on the vulnerable.

These are just a few ideas.  I think your professor/teacher presented an interesting topic.

Best of Luck,

Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I work for the Dept. of Corrections in Florida and know of several inmates that wish to donate their organs for various reasons, so that is why I chose this topic for my paper.  My instructor stated we have to use Journals for our research and I am not sure where to find this information.  I understand that it must credible and I have searched on several search engines such as, scholarly articles and can only come up with the NY times or some other magazine for a reference. Could lead me in the right direction to find  references that are credible.


In research ethics, there are a number of cases that talk about utilizing prisoners and the ethical reasons for and against that use.  Perhaps that would be helpful.

There is a great deal of literature on the ethics of organ transplantation.  There is a case right now which is getting major media coverage involving the girl who received a court order to receive a lung transplant.

Hopefully, these are helpful avenues to get you in the right direction.

Very truly yours,

Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

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Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.


In addition to my law degree, I have a master's degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative medical, legal and business ethics. I am an adjunct professor at a medical school teaching ethics to healthcare professionals and graduate students.

I can answer questions dealing with general ethics principles, including medical ethics, research ethics and bioethics. I am not a moralist and do not interject subjective values such as what is morally right and wrong. Also, I do not give legal advice over the internet.

For more information, you can view my webiste at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM


I have been a civil trial attorney since 1989 with a masters degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative ethics.

State Bar of Arizona
State Bar of Colorado (inactive)
District of Columbia Bar (inactive)
Federal Bar
Licensed in the Arizona District Court
Licensed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
licensed in the United States Supreme Court
American Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
Kennedy Institute of Ethics

A list of my copyrighted publications and presentations is contained at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM

Bachelor of Arts 1985
Juris Doctorate 1989
Master of Arts in Bioethics 2004
Doctorate in Philosophy 2006

Awards and Honors
Phi Beta Kappa
Multiple Who's Who
Outstanding Achievement Award in Bioethics from Midwestern University

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