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house Bill H.R. 6413

Should the State Department Do More to Curb Global Human Organ Trafficking?

Argument in favor

Illegal organ harvesting and sales for profit harm the world’s poor, and are sometimes used to fund international terror networks. Both the human rights violations and security implications of human organ trafficking should impel the U.S. to take an active role in eliminating this global flesh trade.

Jennifer's Opinion
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08/02/2018
Illegal organ harvesting and sales for profit harm the world’s poor, and are sometimes used to fund international terror networks. Both the human rights violations and security implications of human organ trafficking should impel the U.S. to take an active role in eliminating this global flesh trade.
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Rick 's Opinion
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08/02/2018
Without a doubt. How heinous can one truly be peddling life!!! Not to mention the things that these traffickers are doing to get these organs!!!
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Christina's Opinion
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08/03/2018
Illegal organ harvesting and sales for profit harm poor people and benefit terrorist networks. The U.S. should take an active role in eliminating this global problem.
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Argument opposed

While this bill is well-intentioned, raising awareness alone won’t eliminate the global demand for human organs, which is increasing along with human longevity. Rather than making the organ trade illegal, the U.S. should consider other avenues, including legal, regulated markets, to protect buyers and sellers.

RigatoniMonster's Opinion
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08/02/2018
I feel like overhauling the healthcare system might curb the demand for human organ trafficking. It seems like "garbage healthcare" harms the poor more than this.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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08/02/2018
This isn’t even about the USA. Why are we policing the morality of the world when we can’t even agree that a person in the USA has the right to control their own organs? What right do we have to tell citizens of foreign countries how to use their bodies? How about we mind our own damn business?
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I.Got.an.Idea...'s Opinion
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08/02/2018
Yes, but not with this proposal. If the world were to look at the Root Cause, evidence would likely identify the criminals as Conservatives. Therefore, we must abolish Conservatism to address this issue and all other inhumane, unethical and immoral and illegal activities throughout the world.
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What is House Bill H.R. 6413?

This bill — known as the STOP Organ Trafficking Act — would aim to combat human organ trafficking, raise international awareness of this issue, and promote the establishment of voluntary organ donation systems with effective enforcement. To raise international awareness of this issue, it’d require Human Rights officers at U.S. embassy posts overseas to publish information on international organ trafficking. Additionally, it’d allow the Secretary of State to deny a passport to an individual who has been convicted of trafficking in human organs.

On an annual basis through 2025, the Secretary of State would submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees outlining the following information:

  • A description of the sources, practices, methods, facilitators, and recipients of persons trafficked for the removal of their organs during the period covered by each report;

  • A description of the State Department’s efforts, either unilaterally or in cooperation with other countries, to address and prevent human trafficking for organs; and

  • A description of activities undertaken by other countries to address and prevent human trafficking for organs.

Impact

Organ transplant patients; organ donors; commercial organ donors; commercial organ sellers; U.S. embassies; Human Rights offers at U.S. embassies; State Department; and the Secretary of State.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6413

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable. However, a previous, similar version of this bill was estimated to cost $7 million over the 2017-2021 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. David Trott (R-MI) introduced this bill to combat terrorist organizations’ international trafficking of human organs:

“The illegal trafficking of human organs is a tragic and heinous crime that has existed for far too long. Terror groups use this brutal practice to fund their activities and strike fear in the hearts of innocent people. That’s why it’s critical that America takes a leading role in combating these atrocities and preventing more people from falling victim to these heartbreaking crimes. I introduced this legislation initially in 2015 and I plan to continue fighting to get this critical bill through the House in order to ensure that the voices of these victims are heard.”

While there is currently no public opposition to this bill from members of Congress, there is a heated debate in the ethics and medical communities regarding the idea of for-profit organ markets. Some, including philosopher Gerald Dworkin, argue that there are good reasons for considering a market for organs:

“We currently accept the legitimacy of non-commercial solid-organ donations. We also accept the legitimacy of the sale of blood, semen, ova, hair, and tissue. By doing so we accept the idea that individuals have the right to dispose of their organs and other bodily parts if they so choose. By recognizing such a right we respect the bodily autonomy of individuals, that is, their capacity to make choices about how their body is to be treated by others. By recognizing such a right we also produce good consequences for others, that is, save lives, allow infertile couples to have children, further medical research, and so on… Allowing people to sell things is one way of recognizing their sphere of control.”

There are also practical reasons for considering organ sales, specifically the number of patients who die waiting on the organ transplant list every year. Ever since organ donation became clinically feasible, there have been insufficient numbers of organs to meet demand. Every year, the gap between supply and demand grows — and the numbers of deaths related to the global organ shortage continue to climb.

Today, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which administers organ donations in the United States, 20 people die every day while waiting for new organs, while someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. In 2016, over 7,000 candidates died on the waitlist for an organ transplant.

There is one cosponsor of this bill, Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-FL).


Of NoteCurrently, the World Health Organization estimates that 10% of transplant procedures worldwide involve organs that have been bought on the black market. The typical donor in these transactions has an average annual income of $480, while the typical recipient has an average annual income of $53,000 — reflecting that the flow of organs is “from poor to rich, from young to old.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) Guiding Principles on Human Organ Transplantation 1991 outlines a framework for living and deceased organ donation to increase organ supplies, and prohibits monetary transactions in exchange for an organ.

The human organ trade has been a source of growing concern for the international transplant community, members of whom have studied the detrimental consequences of organ trafficking and called for curbing commercially-driven transplantations and encouraging altruistic organ donations. The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, adopted by the Transplantation Society (TTS) and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) in 2008, are the clearest expressions of these sentiments.

In recent years, the human rights and international terror funding aspects of human organ donation have come under scrutiny. Terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq have reportedly been harvesting and selling organs from their prisoners, using proceeds from the illegal organ trade to fund themselves.

Yet, despite the general consensus that it should be curbed, international human organ trafficking remains a significant, and growing, problem worldwide due to significant political obstacles and some governments’ choice to tolerate this practice.

However, there are documented methods to pressure governments into action. The examples of Israel and Pakistan — two countries whose governments previously showed apathy towards, or even support for, this trade, but whose national policies now strongly discourage and combat commercial organ transplantation — are salient examples.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Israel became a major country of origin for transplant tourists, as Israeli patients, facing a severe organ shortage at home, underwent commercial transplantations in various countries worldwide. Israeli HMOs — the country’s primary health insurance providers — reimbursed commercially transplanted patients, thereby facilitating transplant tourism and Israeli patients’ use of the commercialized organ market. On the other side of the equation, Pakistan has been a popular transplant tourism destination since the mid-1990s, such that by 2007, approximately 2,000 commercial transplantations were performed annually using organs obtained from impoverished locals. The majority of those surgeries (approximately 1,5000) were on foreigners, especially from the Middle East.

In both countries, a policy shift toward laws prohibiting organ trafficking and transplant tourism was effected by: 1) advocacy by local physicians, 2) national media coverage, and 3) the efforts of international medical bodies, namely the Transplantation Society and the WHO. While the actual effects of each country’s prohibition diverged, with Israel’s prohibition having much more observable impact than Pakistan’s due to lax — or even nonexistent — enforcement in the latter versus strict enforcement in the former, the path to policy reform in both countries is a salient case study in the context of this bill.

Iran is an interesting example of the potential impact of legalizing for-profit organ sales: in the 1980s, the country had a shortage of legally donated kidneys and subpar dialysis equipment to treat a growing number of patients with end-stage renal disease. However, the country had highly trained surgeons capable of performing organ transplants — so, in 1988, in a bid to eliminate the dangers associated with procuring or receiving an organ illegally, the country made it legal for a living person to sell their kidney. Today, Iran is one of the few nations without an organ shortage, and all kidney donations go through a national foundation that serves as an intermediary for payment.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: sturti / iStock)

AKA

STOP Organ Trafficking Act

Official Title

To combat trafficking in human organs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJuly 17th, 2018
    Organs should not be a commodity, ever.
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    I feel like overhauling the healthcare system might curb the demand for human organ trafficking. It seems like "garbage healthcare" harms the poor more than this.
    Like (28)
    Follow
    Share
    This isn’t even about the USA. Why are we policing the morality of the world when we can’t even agree that a person in the USA has the right to control their own organs? What right do we have to tell citizens of foreign countries how to use their bodies? How about we mind our own damn business?
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, but not with this proposal. If the world were to look at the Root Cause, evidence would likely identify the criminals as Conservatives. Therefore, we must abolish Conservatism to address this issue and all other inhumane, unethical and immoral and illegal activities throughout the world.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Illegal organ harvesting and sales for profit harm the world’s poor, and are sometimes used to fund international terror networks. Both the human rights violations and security implications of human organ trafficking should impel the U.S. to take an active role in eliminating this global flesh trade.
    Like (9)
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    International problem, primarily. Let's fix domestic issues first
    Like (8)
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    This sounds awful, but the way it is written it is all about how awful it is in other countries. If we want to research it and understand it better let’s start at home and make sure we are not a contributing part of it. Republicans always want to focus on how awful others are, but the Christian approach is to address the log in your own eye before trying to get the splinter out of someone else’s eye. We have lots of problems here at home that very negatively affect the poor and contribute to terrorism. Please start here in addressing these problems, and make helping Americans our number one priority for our government.
    Like (5)
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    They ought to take a hard look at Planned Parenthood, the biggest trafficker.
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    Seems to me this is something that belongs to the Department of Justice who should be doing more to track and arrest the US persons involved. Is it that our borders are so under guarded that illegal organs can be brought across without being detected? Hmmm I guess we should give ICE the tools and personnel they need to adequately protect America and Americans from criminals. Build a wall - that’s a start!
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    Do not ever present a Bill that when enacted has no power. All it does is make the sponsor look good at election time. Illegal organ sales is already illegal in this country. All this is a “Look at Me” Bill. No, no, no
    Like (4)
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    Without a doubt. How heinous can one truly be peddling life!!! Not to mention the things that these traffickers are doing to get these organs!!!
    Like (4)
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    Worry about our own problems first.
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    We aren't the world police. We need to quit sticking our house in other county's business and worry about us!!!
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    No because the medical insurance industrial giant is making bank off of organ and blood “donors” by charging exorbitant, near financially crippling fees to put those donated “products” into other people. Our insurance system is “peddling life” already with their misdeeds and greed. Don’t act like you’re doing a “good deed” by donating blood; You’re just lining the pockets of the insurance executive giants. They’re literally taking advantage of people’s better nature. So no, I don’t think this is necessary. Fix healthcare, then we’ll talk.
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    Illegal organ harvesting and sales for profit harm poor people and benefit terrorist networks. The U.S. should take an active role in eliminating this global problem.
    Like (3)
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    I suspect that more regulation on this topic won’t actually curb it at all. Secure the border and incentivize legal and ethical practices for organ donation. If you want to promote this, tell CNN to cover this topic... oh right they are too busy virtue signaling and perpetuating the anti trump agenda with Trump Twitter watch 24/7. They could do the American people a favor by diversify what they cover.
    Like (3)
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    We can’t control our own borders, but we’re going to task our DoS to gather and report on other countries’ ability to control theirs?
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    Conservatives are the root cause of organ peddling? Really - explain - who - how is that accomplished? Where are you getting this information? I am so TIRED of people spouting off with no proof except their own prejudices- shame on all of you
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    As a medical professional I believe that the trafficking of organs is a crime. The pts. that should be receiving the organ gave to linger wait...wrong!
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    The Chinese take organs from anyone sentenced to death after they are executed! Did you know that?
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