Opt-out law bioethical issues

The opt-out law that presumes that all persons want to donate their organ, excluding informed consent, continues to be an issue of debate between ethicists and the Catholic Church.

Defensors of the law argue that Spain that already hasopt-out law and has one of the best donation and transplant rates being an example of facing the worrying shortage of organs for transplants in the United Kingdom. But this opinion is not shared by the Spanish managers of the transplant system (read HERE) and many specialists in the issue.

Opt-out law bioethical issues. Strong questioned in the United Kingdom

In this respect, Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre recent statement says “This change in the law is regrettable as it undermines the very idea of ‘organ donation’; the absence of express consent from each individual leaves room for doubt about the veracity of their choice.” Anscombe continues “The law may increase the incidence of situations where someone whose consent has been deemed had never discussed organ donation with their family and friends, leaving their actual wishes difficult to ascertain and thereby adding to the distress of family members. There is also insufficient evidence to suggest that an opt-out system on its own leads to an increase in the availability of organs for transplantation”.

Meanwhile, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement noting that although the Catholic Church “has consistently encouraged its followers to consider organ donation … a system of presumed consent risks taking away the right of the individual to exercise this decision, and therefore potentially undermines the concept of donation as a gift.” (Crux Journal, May 20, 2020)


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