Your liver or your liberty? Choose one.
This is the proposition that a bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives puts to people locked up in the commonwealth: Donate bone marrow or an organ or two, says HD 3822, and the Department of Correction will cut 60 to 365 days off your sentence. The bill is sponsored by four Democrats.
Everything is wrong with this proposal except its intentions: to shorten transplant waiting lists and reduce state prison populations. Or so I assume. The 370-word text does little more than establish a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Program within the Department of Correction and a committee to work out the details. There is not even a perfunctory assurance of informed consent. With any luck, the bill will flutter to the bottom of some committee’s docket.
But HD 3822 is more than a piece of legislative slapdashery. It hints at the ways policymakers think about people and bodies and the calculus that determines which bodies deserve respect and care and which do not.