Transnational crimes related to health: How should the law respond to the illicit organ tourism?

Sheelagh McGuinness, Jean V. Mchale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
691 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, to paraphrase Scheper-Hughes, we explore the contested legalities and illegalities of medical tourism. Increasingly, individuals are travelling outside of their home jurisdiction to access health services. This may be for a range of reasons: for speed, for cheapness or in some cases to bypass criminal restrictions at state level. This paper explores those who fall into the latter category and who travel to avoid statutory or regulatory prohibitions in relation to certain clinical procedures in England and Wales. In this paper, we consider the appropriate legal response to illicit transplant tourism. We examine the legitimacy of using extra-territorial jurisdiction to enforce the ban on the commercial trade in organs found in the Human Tissue Act 2004. We suggest that this, along with the recent Draft Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, provide an effective response to the transnational crime of illicit organ tourism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-708
Number of pages27
JournalLegal Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Article first published online: 8 DEC 2013

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Health Law and Society


  • Organ transplantation
  • Transnational law
  • Health law
  • Organ Sales
  • Crime


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