Right now, there are two private member bills coming before the Ontario legislature as it relates to organ donation [CTV, Ont. considering two organ donation laws]:
Conservative Frank Klees introduced a private member's bill Wednesday to force every citizen to respond yes, no, or undecided about their organ-donation wishes.Right now, Ontarians have the option to sign an organ donor card when they receive their driver's license. It is, however, not a legally binding document and final decisions regarding organ donation rests with the next of kin.
In Klees' plan people who are 16 or older would be required to make the choice before getting a new or renewed driver's license or health card.
The bill will compete in Ontario's legislature against another private member's bill introduced last week.
New Democrat member Peter Kormos tabled a private member's bill that, if passed, would presume everyone agrees to organ donations unless they have said otherwise.
Now, as a strong supporter of organ donation, I truly believe that any measure that encourages individuals to make the conscious decision to donate. GiveLife.ca and Transplant.ca report that there are nearly 4,000 Canadians awaiting organ donation; 1,812 in Ontario (as of December 31, 2003).
I don't feel entirely comfortable with somebody else making the decision for me, or a decision on behalf of my next of kin. Making a decision about what becomes of me is very personal, and can be extremely difficult for those left behind.
Now, the two bills before the Ontario legislature are entirely different in their context.
Mr. Klees' bill essentially requires an individual to make a decision (or to make a decision to remain undecided) in order to renew their driver's license or health card. You have to clearly mark 'yes', 'no', or 'undecided'. The concern of course is that people will mark 'no' or 'undecided' in record numbers. I think most Canadians support organ donation, but simply fail to fill out their organ donation cards for whatever reason. Frank Klees quotes numbers of 96% support organ donation, but only 45% actually fill out organ donor cards - but, I don't know where the numbers come from. 96% seems kind of high - and people can support other people doing anything.
Mr. Kormos' bill proposes the negative option consent. That is, if you don't specify what your intentions are, it is assumed that you have offered consent - regardless of what your true intentions are (which would never be known) and regardless of what your next of kin or power of attorney would request. Mr. Kormos is right to suggest in the same article that a person's organs are useless to them after death, but the problem is it's not to Mr. Kormos to decide what happens to someone after they die.
The state has no right to dictate what happens to my remains any more than it has to decide how my body is treated after death.
I believe that it's wrong to not donate healthy organs. But, it's even more wrong to take on the role of power of attorney over what happens to someone's remains under the premise that they have no use for them anymore. I can't tell somebody to donate their organs.
Reminds me of an old joke. A guy is in front of a judge for car theft. He says that he didn't think he was stealing anybody's car because it was parked in front of the cemetery and he thought the owner was dead.
I support Mr. Klees' bill.
Tags: ontario, organ donation, politics