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December 13, 1995

Anencephalic Infants as Organ Donors-Reply

Author Affiliations

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs American Medical Association Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1995;274(22):1758-1759. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530220023015

In Reply.  —Dr Eide cites Jefferson for the important proposition that all citizens enjoy certain inalienable rights. However, inalienable rights are not absolute rights—murderers sentenced to capital punishment forfeit their right to life. Moreover, inalienable rights are not always inalienable. Patients may alienate their right to life by declining life-sustaining treatment. Even inalienable rights must be balanced with other rights and interests.Although we may agree on what rights are important, we frequently disagree on how those rights should be weighed against each other. Despite his enunciation of the right to liberty, Jefferson himself owned slaves. Eide seems troubled by the view that different persons enjoy different rights, but that view is not only reasonable, it is morally obligatory. We deny children the right to fight for their country, and we deny them the right to reject formal education.Ms Ferguson observes that the Council's proposal will have a small

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