Top Russian Scientist Warns Euthanasia Will Increase Human Organ Trafficking

Thu Apr 19, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

By Gudrun Schultz

  MOSCOW, Russia, April 19, 2007 ( - A leading Russian scientist and politician has warned that trafficking in human organs will explode in the country if legal euthanasia is introduced, Regnum News Agency reported earlier today.

  Sergey Kolesnikov is a member of the Russian State Duma, a doctor of medicine and a member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. He told a Regnum correspondent that a law permitting euthanasia would “sharply increase” the risk of criminal seizure of human organs, already a significant problem in the country.

“I strongly oppose legalization of euthanasia,” Kolesnikov said. “Corruption and crime rates in this country make me take such initiatives very seriously. So, it will become one of legal ways to seize property of an individual, depending on how the procedure is stated by the law.”

“It is no secret that there is a practice of signing contracts with elderly people on using their organs after their death. In this case it would be legal,” he said.

“As a doctor I know that when it becomes impossible to sustain immune activity of the human organism (for instance, in case of brain death), a decision is made to stop resuscitation with consent of the family,” Kolesnikov said. “But this is not euthanasia.

”[Euthanasia] can be called ‘a voluntary decision to take one’s life.’ How voluntary is it here? They would say it is necessary to relieve pain, but today the level of painkilling is almost in 100% enough not to make it a reason to take one’s life.”

“There is another question: who will make the decision and who will carry out the procedure? Doctors should be in no way involved in it. Well, will the family want to be the executioner? Thus, a special position of the executioner is to be introduced in hospitals, but I do not know whether this is legal,” Kolesnikov said.

  Proposed by Senator Valentina Petrenko, the euthanasia legislation has been criticized by Russian State Duma deputy chair Vladimir Pekhtin, who said the law would contradict the president’s commitment to improve Russia’s demographic situation. With one of the lowest birthrates in the world, Russia is facing a growing crisis of an aging and dwindling population.

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