Saturday, January 1, 2011

Haley Barbour's "Death Panel"

Typically, stories of governor's pardons make the headlines for some of their unusual demands of the prisoner, but a recent parole decision by Mississippi's Republican governor Haley Barbour has raised numerous legal and ethical questions - the governor is willing to grant parole to one inmate on the condition that they donate their kidney to their sister, who is on dialysis and who is also in state custody.  While people are complaining about the moral and ethical questions that arise in human organ procurement, I thought Barbour's request bore an eery similarity to Sarah Palin's "death panels."

Here is an excerpt from a Holbrook Mohr for The Huffington Post:
After 16 years in prison, Jamie Scott, 36, is on daily dialysis, which officials say costs the state about $200,000 a year.

Barbour agreed to release her because of her medical condition, but 38-year-old Gladys Scott's release order says one of the conditions she must meet is to donate the kidney within one year.

The idea to donate the kidney was Gladys Scott's and she volunteered to do it in her petition for early release.
While the idea may have been the prisoners, it seems Barbour's motivation may be based more on the state's financials, after all, what better way to save the government $200,000 a year then to require another inmate, who will be released saving the government even more money, to donate their kidney.  This sounds like government getting in between individual medical decisions, and it sounds as if Barbour is using his position to save his state money. 

While this inmate claims they want to help their sister, it seems they are only willing to do so on condition that they are released from prison. 

The controversy surrounding organ donations and prisoners is nothing new, but considering the complaints from the right about health care reform, it appears that Barbour's stance would be extremely hypocritical.

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