In case you didn’t know, a woman’s breast milk is a commercially but also a nutritionally valuable commodity at least as an example supported by Medolac Labs and Mother’s Milk Cooperative. This milk is said to be needed by hospitalized pre-term infants whose mothers are not yet lactating. I read about it in an article in the Michigan State University Bioethics website on lactation and the laws and actions which have been taken including commodification of the woman’s milk.
A scholarly article on the subject of the sale of mother’s milk was written in the Winter 2009 issue of the Nevada Law Journal
The sale of organs for transplant is not approved in the United States, only donation. The question arises as to whether it is ethical to have lactating women provide their breast milk for sale. Is breast milk analogous to a solid organ?
Can or should the same arguments regarding the value, availability and ethics of “selling” apply to both breast milk and kidney? (You can read more on the issue of the selling of solid organs for transplant in my blog thread “Organ Donation: Who, How, Why and also What are the Ethics (5))”
How about comparing selling the mother’s milk to the legal commodification of eggs and sperm or blood elements?
A physician ethicist has reassured me on this topic:
There are American markets for buying and selling human body parts, including blood, plasma, platelets, breast milk, hair, sperm, and unfertilized eggs. The National Organ Transplant Act bans compensation for organs, including livers, kidneys, and bone marrow.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.