Utah Finally Allows Inmates to Donate Organs

May 30, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. atone [uh-TOHN] (v.) – to do good as payment for one’s offense or crime
Example: The teenager needs to do 100 hours of community service to atone for his crime.  
2. prohibit [proh-HIB-it] (v.) – to not allow a person from doing something
Example: Jail visitors are prohibited from bringing any sharp object.

3. coercion [koh-UR-shuh n] (n.) – the use of force or power to get a person to do something
Example: The police used coercion to make the suspect confess about the crime.

4. means to an end [meens too an end] (idiom) – describes an action done only to achieve another hidden purpose
Example: Some people use organ donation as a means to an end, hoping to earn money instead of just helping a person in need.

5. plea  [plee] (n.) – a request that is usually emotional
Example: The prisoner made plea so he can see his family.


Read the text below.

The governor of Utah, U.S.A. authorized the first state law that allows prisoners, even those in the death row, to register as an organ donor last March 28, 2013.

Utah State Representative Steve Eliason pushed the law after being inspired by the story of Ronnie Lee Gardner. Gardner is a murderer who wished to donate his organs but was banned to do so.

Steve Eliason felt disappointed when someone who may want to atone for his or her sins by donating organs is prohibited from doing so.

However, an ethics expert says that coercion might arise if a population as vulnerable as prisoners would be allowed to donate their organs. Prisoners might be pressured especially because the country has nearly 118,000 people waiting for organ donations.

According to Dr. Paul R. Helft, a non-believer of organ donations for death penalty prisoners, the prisoners would just use the law as a means to an end. Other barriers may also exist, such as the high number of diseased prisoners and the execution methods that may make the organs no longer useful.

On the other hand, Christian Longo, an Oregon death row inmate, believes that every organ donor can save many lives. Longo has been working hard to make Oregon officials consider his request but unfortunately been denied. He even created a Facebook page and has written a plea in New York Times about organ donation.

Longo considers Utah as the first success in his battle and says that he will use this success to convince Oregon to do the same.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think prisoners should or should not be allowed to donate their organs? Why do you say so?
·         Why do you think some people want to donate their organs? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Should the law make an exception in favor of a dying man’s request? Why or why not?
·         If the need arises, would you accept an organ from someone you barely know? Why is that so?


May 30, 2013