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Constitutionally Protected Integrity

Letters to the Editor
Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.

Published January 23, 1011

Dear Editor:

The news of the imprisoned Gladys Scott's intended "voluntary" kidney donation to her sister as a condition of parole from a Mississippi prison was shocking. (Post-Star, December 31) Mississippi is part of the United States of America, where the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." Here, prisons are not facilities for mining raw materials for trafficking in human parts.

In the United States, even in prison, where freedom of movement and behavior are constrained, a person has a right to her physical integrity. She cannot be influenced (coerced) to "voluntarily" donate an organ as a condition of release or for any other purpose.

In the United States, although an imprisoned person loses the property in the fruits of her labor, she retains a property in the fundamental sense in her own person, in her thoughts, religious convictions, and her body.

James Madison, author of the Takings Clause of the Bill of Rights, wrote:

"[A] man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person."

Under protection of "liberty," even in prison a person cannot be mistreated, endangered, or subject to injury. Americans take pride that an imprisoned person cannot be drugged for psychological manipulation, worked to death or to the point of becoming crippled, or starved. Certainly, a person cannot be constitutionally deprived of an organ as a condition for favorable treatment.

And as a "volunteer"?

How can a person possibly be a "volunteer" to accept a physically injurious condition upon which her imprisonment will be terminated?

Even in prison, personal physical integrity is protected by the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Carol W. LaGrasse
President
Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.

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