Rights to our body after death

I usually enjoy Ted Rall’s opinion essays, but I didn’t fancy his Sept. 27 article “Mandatory organ donation.” Even though he writes as he usually does, provocatively and tongue in cheek, there are serious people among us who seriously propose this dystopian stupidity.

While I understand the claim that the pressing need for organ donations justifies a strategy as radical as government confiscation of our corpses, the weak point for me is Rall’s assertion that “It isn’t a property rights issue. You don’t own your corpse.”

On the contrary, that’s exactly the point. We do own our own bodies in life and in death. My claim to ownership of my body, dead or alive, trumps anyone’s claims on me. I do not consider death disqualifying because I do not equate the expiration of life with the expiration of human rights and the due process of law.Wills recognize that principle, and I think we can expand on it.

Since the dead cannot defend themselves, it is fitting for the law to do it for them and recognize ownership rights. One’s body is part of one’s physical postmortem estate. In many ways the living will benefit from the precedent of the conservation of government’s reach into private life. The claim that nothing matters to individuals after death — and so what’s the difference? — misses the point. It does matter to thoughtful souls.

Of course, I sound silly as well as selfish and callous toward those who die every day desperate for an organ transplant. What of their suffering? Sorry, but everyone dies. Get used to it.

I am the very definition of compassion, but our allotment of time is an immutable act of God. People now are so intoxicated with their own egotism that they can’t sanction the idea of dying without advantage, disappearing into the smoke after a display of great noise and fire. Suddenly the decision to donate organs appears to harbor a bit of selfishness in the guise of altruism.

grant piper
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.