Kill a Prisoner to Harvest Organs?

A prisoner is asking to be killed because he wants to harvest organs for his parents.

According to WARN-TV in Nashville, “Tennessee inmate asks to die to help ailing parents live.”

An inmate housed at the Turney Center in Hickman County is asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to allow him the right to die in prison so his organs can be harvested for his ailing parents.

Kenneth Thomas, 37, is not ill. In fact, other than being asthmatic, he reports being in relatively good health.

Thomas was convicted of the 1999 murder of Andrew Titus who was killed during a north Nashville robbery.

Thomas, along with a two other men, were implicated. Thomas was sentenced to life in prison and is not eligible for parole until 2063.

All of his appeals for his conviction have failed and now Thomas has petitioned to be allowed to use euthanasia to take his life and donate his heart and kidneys to his mother and father.

The pleading is part of a larger 35-page letter asking to have his conviction overturned.

“I’ve finally come to the realization that I will never again leave prison alive,” he wrote in a letter dated May 15 to News 2’s Joseph Pleasant. “As a result, today I requested of the Tennessee Supreme Court to grant me a ‘Death with Dignity’ in the form of euthanasia.”

Wesley J. Smith comments at the National Review, “This won’t happen, but I don’t know how euthanasia supporters could oppose the request.”

Indeed, in Europe this has already been done. A prisoner was approved for euthanasia on the basis of his future confinement in prison.

It is tempting to agree with Smith’s request on the grounds that, if he indeed is guilty of murder, he should be executed rather than imprisoned.

But even though I don’t agree with the logic of “serving time,” for a couple of reasons, the fact is that it is the presupposition of our penal system. Agreeing with this prisoner’s argument would, essentially, be allowing him to escape his sentence. Even though it is an extreme request, I worry about what it would mean for our court system.

Here is a more important consideration: the precedent here would apply to other prisoners. Even men who were going to be released later might claim that being freed from prison in old age was too painful to endure. They could claim the right to die.

The logic of “death with dignity” makes killing prisoners a sensible thing to do. And then why not harvest organs from them?

In this case, Smith says he wants his parents to harvest organs from him for their own medical needs.

But if that is OK, then why couldn’t a prisoner find some wealthy man who wants to buy the organs and then get killed so that his family can have the money?

The logic of euthanasia leads to all kinds of hell.