Church of England urges organ donation as a Christian response

By staff writers
October 8, 2007

Self-giving and voluntary generosity with possessions for the well being of others are Christian duties which point towards the desirability of church people taking a lead in post-death organ donation, the Church of England has suggested in parliamentary evidence.

The C of E's Mission and Public Affairs Division made the comments in responding to the House of Lords' European Union Social Policy and Consumer Affairs sub-committee's inquiry into the EU Commission's Communication on organ donation and transplantation: policy actions at EU level.

"Christians have a mandate to heal, motivated by compassion, mercy, knowledge and ability," the response says. "The Christian tradition both affirms the God-given value of human bodily life, and the principle of putting the needs of others before one's own needs."

The Mission and Public Affairs Division repeats the Church of England's opposition to selling organs for commercial gain, while accepting organs being freely given by living donors, with no commercial gain.

It argues that, if the present opt-in system of organ donation is to continue, it will need to be backed by a properly resourced programme of public awareness-building and education.

Whether organ donation should be arranged through an "opt-in" or an "opt out" system is not a question on which Christians hold a single set of views, the response claims. It declines to take a definitive view on the issue - which is likely to be the most controversial aspect of government proposals

The opt-in system, where people sign up to be donors if they die, reflects Christian concern to celebrate and support gracious gifts, freely given, says the C of E. An opt-out approach, where people state that they do not wish to donate organs, could equally stress the Christian concern for human solidarity and living sacrificially for others, it suggests.

The church's response goes on to say: "The undoubted need for more organs to be donated for the healing of others has to be weighed against the changed relationship between persons and the State which moving to an opt-out system could entail."

Either way, all EU member states would need to adopt the same opt out or opt in approach to consent for organ donation, it argues.

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