An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SO-CALLED ‘OPT-OUT’ ORGAN DONATIONS are coming to North America, thanks to Nova Scotia.
The government of that province has introduced legislation for what it calls “presumed” or “deemed” consent.
It means that, instead of actively giving consent for the harvesting of our parts after we leave this mortal coil, it’s assumed they’re available.
There are several rules and “outs” around this policy. Anyone under the age of 19 is exempt, for example. And, the family still has a say, and if you don’t want to donate your organs, you can pro-actively opt out. As opposed to the opt-in of the current system.
Nova Scotia has been talking about this for the past year. Several other countries are already doing it, the theory being that it will increase the availability of usable organs. In practice, that’s not necessarily true. Sweden, for example, has had presumed-consent legislation since 1996 and continues to have a poor rate of donations.
There can surely be no more invasive or rights-robbing legislation than one that presumes the state has a right to your organs. In case you’re wondering, I opted in many years ago, though I question what value these old bones and organs would be to anyone else at this stage.
But I find it offensive that I would have to make a statement, fill out a form, or whatever, saying I don’t want to give up parts of this aging carcass if that was my wish. It’s quite a lot like those marketing systems in which you have to tell a seller you no longer want the product, instead of the seller having to confirm with you that you do want it.
I don’t care whether or not my family can opt out for me after I’m declared dead. I want to be the one who’s asked, who signs his parts away. Which I do gladly, but it should be nobody’s decision except my own.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.