Sunday, 2 January 2011

Presumed Consent

Longrider has an interesting post on the idea that it should be presumed that you submit your organs to be harvested after your death for transplants, unless you opt out.This "Presumed consent" will save thousands of lives by enabling many more organs to be available to those who need them. The only people who lose are already dead, and are in no position to complain. Simple?

Well, this opens up the distubing proposition that your body is owned by the state, and that is a rubicon I'd prefer not to cross. There are many religious, misanthropic or rational reasons you may not want to give your organs. And many of those are reasons that are intensely personal medical conditions and the like, that you may not wish to share with the state or any other agency.

Whilst laws that mean the state also decides, for your benefit and that of "society" naturally that your body is not so fully your own that you cannot put whatever you want into it, whether that's cocaine in one orrifice or a cock in another (laws I disagree with too), the state is intensely interested. It should not be, because I own my body and decide what happens to it, not HM Government. Longrider wants to say NO! And that should be his decision. And he's right. It's not a "civic duty". Neither's voting for that matter! This is a libertarian issue which will find resonance with the public, and one we should use to drive a wedge between the people of the UK and the state they still inexplicably trust.

I deal with this by the public declaration.

My organs are available for transplant on the simple calculation I am an atheist, and when I'm dead, I have no need of my corpse any more. If I get hit by a truck (a better than evens bet...), it is some comfort to me that my organs may help others to live, or live better as a result of my death. I have signed up for the organ donation scheme.

If the government goes ahead with presumed consent, that's a presumtion too far, and they will find my consent withdrawn forthwith. If more of us on the organ donor register wrote to their MP to that effect, then this illiberal proposal will be still-born.


B.K. said...

This is one issue in which I completely agree with you. The problem with presumed consent--particularly in a place with widely disparate classes, is that someone who is deemed a less worthy individual may be allowed to die so that someone who is deemed to be more worthy might live. Opting in to be an organ donor seems to be the right way to go.

Longrider said...

Ta for the link. Actually, my position is rather more nuanced than a simple "no". It's very much the same as yours - I am simply refusing to be cajoled into going onto the register because of the constant nagging, hassling, guilt tripping and threats of presumed consent.

If, in the event of my untimely death, surgeons ask the question, the answer will be "yes".

Southerner said...

I was previously willing to be an organ donor, but there HAVE been a few cases of hospitals jumping the gun to harvest organs from people who MIGHT have made a recovery.

It all comes down to trust, and I don't trust hospitals or the government. If my relatives decide to pull the plug and donate my organs, that is acceptable to me because I assume that they will MAKE SURE THAT I AM DEAD FIRST.

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