Tag Archives: ethics

Don’t Give, Don’t Get: Israel’s Organ Donor Law

I heard a very fascinating report on NPR last week about a new organ donor law in Israel. In response to an extreme shortage of organ donors, Israel decided to take drastic action and enacted a law that seeks to encourage organ donation by penalizing those who refuse to donate. It’s nicknamed ‘Don’t give, Don’t get.’ If an organ is available and two people of similar medical conditions are eligible for the donated organ, priority goes to the one who was a registered organ donor.

If you’re not willing to donate your own organs, you get lower priority when you need an organ.

It’s an interesting bit of medical ethics. While I think in general we should be willing to help people regardless of how much they’re willing to help others, this is a unique situation. A extreme situation calls for extreme action?

What’s funny about the story is that they talk with a rabbi who refuses to donate organs for religious reasons. Yet he’s willing to accept a donated organ if he needed one. They summarize his position so I’m not sure how accurate it is, but he basically reasons that in one instance it’s murder and in another instance they were dead anyway. I think it’s complete hypocritical garbage.

This is what happens when the shoe is on the other foot. If you’re not willing to be a part of the system, why should you benefit from the system? In other instances I’m not sure how well this logic works. What if we denied assistance benefits like unemployment or food stamps to people who refused to fund such assistance programs (not that anyone has such a choice)? What if we denied freedom to those who refused military service (interestingly enough, it’s Israel where serving in the armed forces is mandatory)? What if the Red Cross gave priority to disaster victims who had donated?

And at that point it becomes ridiculous. Admittedly I kind of like the idea of sticking it to people who won’t play along. But I think society has to be more benevolent than that. It’s not love if you only love those who love you back.