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Virtual: ‘Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience: A Workshop on the Intersection of Medical Advocacy and Medical Ethics’

October 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

As biomedicine globalizes, questions of international medical ethics become increasingly apparent. The People’s Republic of China is the country with the steepest increase in the number of transplants in the past 20 years. As of today, it claims to perform at least the second-highest number of annual transplants. The number of human organs available for medical transplantation has been augmented by the practice of forcibly harvesting organs without free, voluntary consent from people incarcerated in their prison system, principally political and religious dissidents. Medical and human rights organizations in other countries have decried this state practice as a violation of basic human rights, and have criticized the Chinese state and transplant community for abandoning the medical profession’s core ethical commitments in their decision to use execution as a means to organ “donation”. But is there any professional ethical obligation for health care professionals outside of China to take responsibility for their colleagues’ complicity with such abuses, given the cultural and political differences that influence their work? What can and should health care professionals across the globe who are motivated to advocate on this issue do, either as individuals or collectively within their medical specialties?

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UNC Center for Bioethics