The British Humanist Association (BHA) has urged on the British government to push ahead with legal reform on organ donation which would have the effect of requiring people to opt out rather than opt in to the donation system.
Patients groups and families of those urgently seeking organs are in favour of the change, but the government says it would rather increase participation through education than through a legal change that some civil rights and religious groups have opposed. But proponents say that it is about saving lives, and that no-one's rights are infringed.
Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said yesterday: "While we welcome a commitment by Government to launch a public education campaign aimed to increase the number of registered organ donors, we are disappointed that the Organ Donation Taskforce – to whose investigation we contributed – has recommended no change in the law on organ donation. We strongly support change to a system of ‘presumed consent’ for organ donation and most of us would not object to our body parts and organs being donated and used for good ends."
Ms Phillips added: "We maintain that a system of ‘presumed consent’ is likely to increase the number of organs available for transplantation, and that this will not only help to prevent many more unnecessary deaths, it will help to combat the traffic in organs, and in human beings for the purpose of removal of organs, from outside of Europe – trafficking which creates serious ethical issues and is contributing to systematic human rights violations of some of the most vulnerable people from across the world."
She concluded: "Policy-making must be based on evidence, rational decision-making and that which seeks to maximise the well-being of individuals and so society more generally. This can be done while also making provision to accommodate the personal wishes of individuals based on other considerations."