China's doing the right thing by phasing out organ donations from prisoners on death row, but the official reason for the move just makes the government seem more heartless and brutal, not less. Prisoner organ donation is one of the darkest aspects of China's record of capital punishment, with inmates widely seen as pressured to give up their organs, and organ harvesting even seen as an incentive to carry out executions. But instead of phasing out the practice because of ethical concerns, according to The New York Times, Chinese vice minster of health Huang Jiefu said it was because prisoners' organs are just dirty. Writes The Times' Keith Bradsher:
Dr. Huang did not acknowledge any ethical issues involved in taking organs from prisoners. Instead, he raised a medical issue, saying that the rates of fungal infection and bacterial infection in organs taken from executed prisoners were often very high, so the long-term survival rates of organ transplant recipients in China was consistently below the survival rates of recipients in other countries.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.