I heard on Newsnight last night about the Government’s plans to change the laws on organ donation – basically to make everyone a donor unless they choose not to be, rather than the other way round as it is now.
Now, I understand their reasoning for this, many lives can be saved if there were more donors. There is no hidden agenda, but still I find this rather alarming. Don’t get me, I would have absolutely no qualms about my organs being used after my death if they could be of help to someone. Equally, I can’t foresee a situation where I would prevent the use of the organs of my nearest and dearest, again if something good can come from something bad, I’m all for it.
But not everyone feels this way. Transplants go against many people’s religious beliefs, some believe the body needs to be intact for us to move onto the next life. Other people just don’t like the thought of themselves or their loved ones being cut up. Under these new rules though, we would be able to ‘opt out’ of being a donor. I think this is where I have a problem with it – unless we do otherwise, our bodies aren’t our own, they belong to the authorities! I don't think for a minute that we'll all be subjected to weird experiments by Frankenstein-like figures, but I think this is taking Government control a step too far.
And the choice of language here seems wrong to me. At work, I hear the phrases ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ frequently in relation to mailing lists, email newsletters and data protection. Strangely though in the world of data protection, it is now considered best practice to make such things ‘opt-in’. It is considered very bad form and legally precarious to just assume someone has ‘opted in’. But if this new law comes in, our bodies may have less protection than our email addresses!
Surely a big campaign to encourage more voluntary donation would be better? And in a grown-up move, I've decided that I will actually register as a donor now myself.