British Catholics are being encouraged to oppose government proposals to increase the number of organs available for transplant surgery under a system that presumes the consent of the donors. Source: Catholic Herald.
Prime Minister Theresa May wants to replace the current “opt-in” system, in which organs are taken only after people have expressed their wish to be a donor, with an “opt-out” system, by which organs may be removed unless the donor has explicitly refused in advance.
The change is intended to reduce the numbers of patients who die while waiting for a suitable organ to become available for transplant. The reforms would bring England into line with Wales, where the practice has been legal for nearly two years.
The proposals, however, have been sharply criticised in a briefing paper issued by the Anscombe Centre for Bioethics, an academic institute serving the Catholic Church in the UK and the Irish Republic.
It said that the plans undermined “the idea of organ retrieval as ‘donation’, that is, as an act of voluntary self-giving and not merely an act of taking by others or by the state”.
“We encourage as many people as possible to engage with the consultation process and express your views on these proposals, which would undermine the concept of donation, lessen respect for the human body, disregard the feelings of grieving relatives and threaten to alienate religious and other minority groups, without realistic prospect of increasing rates of transplantation,” the briefing paper said.
“There is no good evidence that moving from a system of donation to a system of presumed consent will increase the number of transplants that occur,” it said, arguing that Wales has seen a slight decrease in organ transplantation since presumed consent was legalised.
The centre also pointed out that taking organs without adequate consent was denounced by Pope St John Paul II in 1991 when he told the Society for Organ Sharing that such activities “would amount to the dispossession or plundering of a body”.
Under the existing system, people wishing to donate organs register their intentions with NHS Blood and Transplant and carry an organ donor card.
Catholics urged to oppose organ ‘plundering’ proposals (Catholic Herald)