Ethicists warn against organ donation system change

Organ harvesting could become a reality in Scotland if an opt-out system of organ donations is introduced.

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics gave the warning ahead of consideration of the Transplantation (Authorisation for the removal of organs etc.) (Scotland) Bill at the Health and Sport Committee on Tuesday November 24.

Scottish Labour MSP Anne McTaggart introduced the legislation that would see Scotland move from the current opt-in system, where patients must give consent for their organs to be used after death to an opt-out system where consent is presumed.

Ethically, the opt-out system goes against the biblical worldview of human beings as made in the image of God and having autonomy over their own bodies.

Proponents of the opt-in system argue it will increase the number of organ donations but critics, including CARE for Scotland are warning it is ethically questionable.

CARE for Scotland also said there is no global evidence to support an opt-out system not least because a number of European countries such as Luxembourg, Sweden and Slovakia all have an opt-out system and yet have witnessed a decrease in organ donations.

Gordon Macdonald, the Parliamentary Officer for the charity said: “The idea that presuming consent will solve the problem of getting consent is a complete myth and MSPs must not fall for it.”


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