Wednesday 30th March 2022, the UK’s House of Commons passed a government backed amendment to the Health and Care Bill to prohibit commercial organ tourism to China, as well as other countries globally.
The amendment, which is likely to become legislation at the end of April 2022, means it will be illegal for British citizens and British nationals to travel outside of the UK to purchase an organ. The emphasis is on the commercialisation of organs. The amendment does not prohibit receiving donated organs where there is no financial gain. It also criminalises the selling of organs in China or in other countries.
The newly passed amendment was drafted in response to parliamentarians’ overwhelming support towards Lord Hunt of Kings Heath’s cross-party “Organ Tourism” amendment that passed through the House of Lords on 16th March with a comfortable majority – 203 votes to 159.
Lord Hunt said at the time of the Lords’ vote,
“Forced organ harvesting in China is the crime of forcibly extracting organs from prisoners of conscience, killing the victim in the process. The harvested organs are sold to Chinese officials, Chinese nationals or foreigners for transplantation. This is a very modest amendment, doing our bit to try to prevent this obnoxious habit.”
The government backed amendment is an extension to existing UK legislation. Currently it is illegal to commercially trade in organs within the UK, the amendment introduces extraterritorial application.
UK Health Minister Edward Argar said the measure, along with the government’s “commitment to work with NHS Blood and Transplant to make more patients aware of the legal, health, and ethical ramifications of purchasing an organ” would “send an unambiguous signal that complicity in the abuses associated with the overseas organ trade will not be tolerated.”
READ THE AMENDMENT HERE