There must be something wrong with me, for I don’t think this proposition is ethically obvious at all. In fact, I think it’s probably dead wrong.
Silvia Lesama-Santos, 46, is a mother of four who has lived illegally here for at least 30 years. The transplant program at the Oregon Health and Science University denied her request to receive a new liver, telling her that she did “not have documentation of lawful presence or immigration documentation,” which was required for her to be eligible for a transplant.
The ACLU of Oregon took on Lesama-Santos as a cause, and publicized her plight. The Oregon ACLU’s head, Mat dos Santos, called the hospital’s policy “cruel and inhumane.”
The bad publicity, in turn, quickly forced the hospital to change its policy. “It was brought to our attention this evening that an archaic transplant policy was preventing an undocumented individual from being evaluated at OHSU,” the school said in a statement this week. “Upon learning of the policy, OHSU leaders acted immediately and terminated the policy. We deeply regret the pain this has caused the family. OHSU is committed to serving our entire community — all are welcome at OHSU, and this policy does not reflect our values.”
Flushed with success, the ACLU is planning “to ask other hospitals to change similar policies,” ask, in this case, meaning “coerce.”
As with so much involving the illegal immigration issue, this appears to be emotion-based reasoning. If we eliminate all obvious disadvantages and negative consequences to living here illegally, which is apparently the pro-illegal immigration activists’ ultimate goal, then we are installing de facto open borders. Illegal immigrants can drive in some states; they won’t be deported if sanctuary cities can help it. They can hold jobs. In California they can even be lawyers. Now they have a right—isn’t the ACLU’s mission protecting citizen rights?—to take a liver away from a citizen who will die without it. If an illegal immigrant has a right to a liver, she has a right to a heart, or bone marrow.
Citizenship has to mean something.
The ACLU’s argument boils down to “let’s tug on the public’s heartstrings that are unattached to their cerebrums, and extort the hospitals.” It’s a good strategy, since hospital administrators care far more about the bottom line than principles of law or ethics. I agree that an illegal immigrant should not be turned away from receiving medical care as long as no citizens suffer as a result. However, there can be no right to step in front of a law-abiding citizen and take an organ that is needed to safe his life, or make any citizen wait a second longer for a transplant because an illegal immigrant broken into the line.
I think we should give illegal immigrants transplants using all of those surplus livers, kidneys and hearts hanging around when supply outweighs demand.