England’s Chief Medical Officer wants a system of “presumed consent” to be introduced in England to tackle organ shortages.
The argument runs like this.
There is a shortage of donor organs. If we had more donor organs we could save more lives. If we presume that everyone consents to give us their organs on death, unless they notify us otherwise, then we will get more organs and more lives will be saved.
The problem is that there is a world of difference between giving consent and simply not bothering to register your disagreement.
A logically identical argument is:
There is a shortage of money in the NHS. If we had more money in the NHS we could save more lives. If we presume that everyone consents to give us their money on death, unless they notify us otherwise, then we will get more money and more lives will be saved.
or how about:
There is a shortage of new drugs. If we had more human guinea pigs we could develop more drugs and save more lives. If we presume that everyone consents to be a human guinea pig every time they enter hospital, unless they notify us otherwise, then we will get more new drugs and more lives will be saved.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in very much in favour of organ donation, I think it is a generous gift to help someone else live after your death.
I strongly object to the state asserting ownership of your body, unless you go to the trouble of saying they can’t have it.
Consider the following:
What happens if I belong to a religious group that does not believe in organ transplantation but there is no record of my opt out on the notoriously unreliable government computer systems?
What happens if I don’t agree with organ transplantation but have a low IQ, or I am too mentally or physically disabled to complete the opt out process ?
What happens if the post office lose my opt out, or someone amends my file in error in some faceless government department ?
What happens if I am a child of seven years old. Am I expected to opt out ? Will my parents be required to opt out on my behalf ? If I am too young to make my own decision then why does the state assert the right to make it for me ?
What happens if I am a child in state care. Will the state decide whether to opt me out or not ?
Once politicians are allowed to spin this issue and convince us that consent is the same thing as the absence of a formal objection then the floodgates are well and truly open.
How about, MP’s should all be paid an extra £100,000 a year. Anybody who objects can fill in a form and send it to parliament. If less than half the population registers an objection then the majority are in agreement and it’s full steam ahead!