Scotland bishops slam opt-out organ donation plan

Scotland’s Catholic bishops have said a resounding “no” to a bill that would introduce an “opt-out” system for organ donation.

Responding to a proposed Organ and Tissue Donation bill, the Church’s parliamentary office called an opt-out system “intrinsically discriminatory”.

This is because “it denies the integrity of the person by overriding the requirement for consent on how a person’s organs may be used”.

“The proposal aims to establish a principle in law that the consent of the person can be determined by the authority of the state,” the Church’s response explained.

The Church affirmed that it is an enthusiastic supporter of organ donation providing it is based on “free and consensual giving”.

But it is not “morally acceptable” if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent.

“In aiming to meet the demand for organs and transplantations it is important not to sacrifice important ethical principles,” the Church said.

The proposed bill would mean that adults would have to specify that they do not want their organs donated.

The current “opt-in” system “recognises the importance of genuine consent in the treatment of persons and the charitable nature of organ donation which is based on a gratuitous act of kindness on behalf of the donor”, the Church said.

The Church response went on uphold the role of family members in the consent process.

It also supported a campaign promoting organ donation, provided it is “based on free and consensual giving”.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both lent their support to organ donation, with the latter at one point being a card carrying organ donor.

In 2008, Pope Benedict said that “organ donation is a peculiar form of witness to charity”.

“In a period like ours, often marked by various forms of selfishness, it is ever more urgent to understand how the logic of free giving is vital to a correct conception of life,” Benedict said.

A similar move to introduce an opt-out system of organ donation has been proposed in Wales and was also opposed by the Church.

There is pressure to increase the number of donated organs which can often be used in life-saving operations.


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