Posted by Gary on January 31, 2008
Delaware lawmakers have recently proposed legislation concerning organ donation in our state (see article here). The system as it now stands is “opt in”. The proposed legislation would make the system “opt out” meaning that it will be assumed that you are donating your organs unless you indicate otherwise. Immediately I have concerns…
Advocates of this law are quick to say that if you don’t want to donate you can opt out. Yes, but it is already the case that if I want to donate my organs I can opt in, why do they see the need for this change? If the issue is that organ donation is my option, I already have an option to donate now.
What is obvious is that lawmakers (and others) feel that we are not getting enough donors and so the purpose of this law is to get more organs. But if it is a matter of one’s option how do they feel this system will get them more organs than the current process? No explanation of how this will result in more donations has been given.
From a governmental position I am concerned that the default position of the state should never be “take”. Do you see the subtle shift here? Up until now the matter has been one that you and I must initiate, now our donation is assumed and the onus is put on us to say “no”. Is this a step toward mandatory organ donation? I’m sure that supporters would assure us that it isn’t. I am also sure that twenty years ago they would have insisted that they would never institute an assumed donation position either but here we are on the doorstep.
My greater concern is that many people do not understand the nature of organ transplantation. Many people assume that organs are taken after we die (as you and I think of death). The truth is that vital organs must be taken while blood and oxygen have been circulating to keep the organ from damage. How does this happen? Through a new (1968) definition of death which now includes brain death. (My concern does not include organ donation which does not result in death. For example I can donate one of my two kidneys or the lobe of a lung to someone without it resulting in my death)
Among the many things to consider here is man’s sinful nature. Fallen man does not see correctly the beginning of life, how can we trust him to see the end of life correctly? If this law passes, the state will force many more decisions to be made as to whether someone is still alive or not. While many will speak of the good that will come, is good acceptable at any cost? What if “brain dead” people are not dead?
Will this lead to keeping people on life support for the purpose of harvesting their organs? What about their remaining organs? If we can keep blood flowing and oxygen in the body and other organs are kept viable will we have holding places where people are stored until their organs are needed?
I fear that we are so far down the road concerning the disposability of life and human beings that the voice of opposition is seen as unloving and insane. Abortion has led us to a utilitarian view of human life, it is almost impossible to alarm us anymore. Others may not see what I believe I do, but I insist that a law like this is an initial step to much that will be evil in the years ahead. Almost every evil has a Trojan Horse. (Please see Brain Death and Organ Transplantation below)
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