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So much for owning yourself - at least in the UK
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, January 13, 2008

One of the main tenets of any rights based community is the understanding that you and only you own your life. And, one would presume, that would also extend to your body - whether alive or dead.

To an extent, that will still be true in the UK, I guess, but only if you "opt out".

Apparently government, in the form of Gordon Brown, has decided it would probably be best for all if everyone presumed that the government has a right to everyone's organs unless you make it clear they don't:
Switching to a Spanish-style "opt-out" system — in which consent is presumed — could save thousands of lives, he wrote in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery and the limits imposed by our current system of consent," Brown said.

Under current British law, organs may be removed only from patients who make their consent known — for example, by carrying an organ donor card — or with the consent of a family member if intent was not specified.

An "opt-out" system would presume consent unless potential donors explicitly registered their disapproval. That would make it easier for doctors to approach families with requests for donations, said Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee.
Instead of doing the hard work of mounting a campaign of some sort to increase the number of voluntary donors (you know - choice?), they've decided to do what you can expect most government's to do:
Patients' groups said that they were appalled by Mr Brown's intervention. "They call it presumed consent, but it is no consent at all," said Joyce Robin, from the watchdog Patient Concern. "They are relying on inertia and ignorance to get the results that they want."
But you see, it's not a big step from providing national health care to telling you what you can and can't do in terms of lifestyle choices (since they can always withhold health care if you don't comply). And it certainly should come as no surprise that the government of the UK, considering the base premise above, is simply further presuming that your organs are on loan to you and are actually owned by the state to be taken at death unless you manage to sign a form saying they can't do it.

It's a lovely scenario:
The taskforce report - to be released on Tuesday - calls for a senior doctor to be appointed in every hospital as a "champion" of donation, along with a lay person to spread the message about the importance of donation locally.

The force, which is to publish a report on "presumed consent" this summer, hopes its 14 recommendations will lead to 50 per cent more donations in five years.

It admits to a possible "conflict of interest" between medical staff, trying to save lives and those keen to ensure every possible organ is harvested. Dr Kevin Gunning, an intensive care consultant at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, and a member of the UK Transplant's advisory group, said the measures could put doctors and relatives under pressure. "If, as a doctor you have turned your thoughts to your patient being a donor when they are still living, that is a real conflict."
Ya think?!?

Brown's piece in the Telegraph concludes:
But a system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery and the limits imposed by our current system of consent. A serious debate - involving the public most of all, but also bringing in professional views and those of religious leaders - is long overdue. To facilitate it, Alan Johnson and I have asked the Organ Donation Taskforce to begin consulting on the question of a move to a different consent system.

It is a sensitive issue, and one on which many different points of view need to be heard. I want to start a genuine debate, and I recognise that there will be legitimate concerns that need to be heard. Any system that moved towards a new kind of consent needs careful safeguards, and we should not move in advance of a real and thoughtful public debate involving faith communities, patients and families.

My hope is that 2008 will be a year in which we can address it with respect for different opinions and a real commitment to a more compassionate Britain - one that mobilises the best of our medical science and healthcare system, and our humanity too, to save thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost.
Can anyone root out the premise here? It isn't any of the "faith communities" business. Nor is it any of the government's business. And professional views are not necessry. It's your body, you own it and you may dispose of your remains as you see fit.

But the presumption above is exatly the opposite, isn't it? Instead per Brown the government gets to decide whether you agree or not, and while they'll go through the charade of "listening" and "debating" the "problem", the premise is set and through all that process, accepted - they get to decide, not you.

Can Soylent Green be far behind?
 
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Along with anyone believing in individual rights, both Jewish and Catholic teachings are opposed to mandatory organ donation. Unfortunately, opposing anything taught by those two religions is seen as ’progressive’, and thus more likely to be implemented.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
I will concede that there is a problem: the supply of organs is insufficient to satisfy demand. Why? Does not the market guarantee that if a product is in demand, the price of that product will rise or fall ad needed until supply and demand are balanced? So why hasn’t the price of organs risen to provide incentives to the heirs of the deceased sufficient to increase the supply? Surely, with his life at stake, a potential buyer would be willing to outbid others to get an available organ.

Oh, that’s right: the government, in both the US and the UK, forbids donors or their kin selling organs, presumably on the grounds that paying for organs would create a market for illegally-harvested organs. So the government having fixed the payment to the organ’s producer at zero (have you ever noticed that everyone else involved makes money, and the recipient pays for the organ as well as the surgeons’ and hospital’s costs and profit?), has created the shortage that it now proposes to solve, not by undoing its earlier error, but by committing a more egregious error.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
I propose that it become policy in three years (to give everyone the opportunity to choose what they wish) that people identified as organ donors (on their ID and in the system) enter the waiting list above anyone that is not so identified regardless of other factor besides compatibility.
 
Written By: RRRoark
URL: http://soslies.blogspot.com
Wow, Larry Niven is looking pretty prescient about now.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Hmmm, once you’re dead you’re not owning any body parts — a dead man can’t own anything. And it does no harm to anyone if the parts of the empty shell that once held a life gets used to save other lives. I mean, the law already specifies ways in which it is legal to dispose of a dead body, so it’s not like the survivors get all the body parts to do with what they wish.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Same old story. Some group of people want something, can’t (or don’t want to) persuade everyone to go along, so they turn to legal force.

So Erb, does the same logic apply to all your other property as well? After all, once you’re dead, you can’t ’own’ anything.

"And it does no harm to anyone if the parts of the empty shell that once held a life gets used to save other lives."
That is your opinion.


 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Terry, I remember that short story by Niven. Maybe Erb should read it.

Erb, you are dead wrong on this issue. The government has no claim on your body, even after death. It can forbid you from dumping your dad’s body into a trash can, but it can’t force you to have his organs removed.

A better solution to a shortage in transplantable organs would be to allow people (or their estates) to sell their organs.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
"One of the main tenets of any rights based community is the understanding that you and only you own your life."

Ah, a moral principle, eh? Well, McQuain, would that extend to drugs? Or, can one dispose of one’s organs as one sees fit, but not bathe them in certain chemicals the state euphemistically labels "contraband?"

Further, how would you judge people who explicitly violate someone’s moral right to their life, by, say, stealing their organs, killing them, or perhaps locking them in a cage for 10 years?

Huh?
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.honestylog.com
I wonder what will happen when the muslims object?
 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Steverino - short story?
Hell, the organleggers are part of the Known Space environment.
ARM - Gil Hamilton,
RingWorld, Mote in God’s Eye, Protector, etc.
Kzinti, Puppeters, PAK (Protectors)
If you haven’t read more than the one short story, and you liked that one, boy are you in for fun.

Another thing the Brits are considering is RF tagging their criminals with subcutaneous transmitters.
Science Fiction becoming science fact yet again.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And it does no harm to anyone if the parts of the empty shell that once held a life gets used to save other lives.
Who are you to say someone might not suffer psychological harm knowing they’re going to be divied up after they die?
Mighty white of you to decide who is harmed and who is not isn’t it?

I personally need my parts put into the canopic jars or it’s going to suck for me in the afterlife with Ra.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Ah, a moral principle, eh? Well, McQuain, would that extend to drugs? Or, can one dispose of one’s organs as one sees fit, but not bathe them in certain chemicals the state euphemistically labels "contraband?"

Further, how would you judge people who explicitly violate someone’s moral right to their life, by, say, stealing their organs, killing them, or perhaps locking them in a cage for 10 years?

Huh?
So, what’s your point, that because it’s not totally "Libertarian" now that any fantasy that hits the mind of a bureaucrat just goes?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Who are you to say someone might not suffer psychological harm knowing they’re going to be divied up after they die?
Do you know what kind of slippery slope you’re treading on there? That’s the kind of thinking of those who want to worry so much about the feelings of others that they’ll ban words, speech, cartoon images, etc. You’re using the logic of those who trumpet the cause of political correctness.

As a pragmatist, I value liberty because it works. But when it becomes an ideology that people even say you can prevent organs from being used after death and allow innocents to die as well...that just doesn’t seem rational to me.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And it certainly should come as no surprise that the government of the UK, considering the base premise above, is simply further presuming that your organs are on loan to you and are actually owned by the state to be taken at death unless you manage to sign a form saying they can’t do it.
Is signing a form really such an onerous test of a persons conviction that few if any will be able to do so in a lifetime? Society is looking to benefit from people who are too lazy to sign a form or ignorant of the need to do so, good on society.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I agree unaha. From now on, the government is entitled to everything you own, whenever it wants it, unless you sign a form that states otherwise. Don’t be lazy now.

Scott Erb, talk about slippery slopes. You can do all manner of harm with the ’allow innocents to die’ argument.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Do you know what kind of slippery slope you’re treading on there? That’s the kind of thinking of those who want to worry so much about the feelings of others that they’ll ban words, speech, cartoon images, etc. You’re using the logic of those who trumpet the cause of political correctness.
You know, I thought some of your other stuff was foolish.
Before you label me all fuzzy and emotional about bodies, you should know, I’m on the organ donors list for the state of Texas. I’ve already determined if my parts can be used they should be and after they harvest my usable organs, I’m suggesting cremation.

Now on to your pseudo-intellectual snobbery.
There is not a whit of common ground between political correctness, a desire to control others in their speech and thought, and determination of what will happen or will not happen to one’s body after their death.

You’re, really, as usual liberally, "it’s for your own good" casual about telling others in your intellectually clumsy style what’s good for them. If they may have religious reasons, or even personal reasons, for not wanting their body shopped out like so many used car parts, how is that up to you to determine as being foolish or not foolish.

The idea that it can be used as spare parts without their say so, or their next of kin’s say so, may be repugnant to many people. This is, nothing less than, an emotional issue of the highest order. Some third party can effectively determine that the sum total of their parts, emphasis on the word total, are not actually theirs. If medical science determines the bodies can be used, effectively in total, the grieving kin get, what...a card? Their desire to be placed in the ground in the traditions of their ancestors and departed loved ones means nothing?
Talk about slippery slope arguments.

Yours, sir, is the kind of thinking that slippery slopes a world ’for the children’ to one where people are euthanized for their parts because they were criminals and would serve a more useful purpose to society dead and as parts than alive. The ultimate demonstration of eminent domain. I can even see a path to the actual legal equivalent of ’an eye for an eye’ as a result of this sort of thinking.

But I see you’ve decided, by intellectual fiat, what is or is not acceptable for people to ’feel’ and think about something that really just doesn’t get any more personal than their body. Some things are quite best left up to an individual to decide, and if they or their relatives decide against, the state shouldn’t have the option to turn them into a farming project for parts.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Grimshaw,

What do you mean from now on? The government does lay claim to a part of everything you own and every year you have to fill out some forms to make sure they don’t take too much. Government never takes all of everything, because it wants to come back to take some next year and the year after.

But of course no one would fill out those forms and claim those rebates, that would be wrong...
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
There is not a whit of common ground between political correctness, a desire to control others in their speech and thought, and determination of what will happen or will not happen to one’s body after their death.
Then don’t lose some kind of "he’ll feel psychological pain" at the thought of what will happen after his death. People feel psychological pain at being called names, seeing their religion or ethnic group slammed, etc. But the choice seems to be save a human life or allow someone’s irrational emotions dictate action. Call it snobbery if you wish, but I have absolutely no respect for the decision not to donate organs out of some emotional reaction or belief. I can respect an argument that it should be voluntary and incentives could be built in (both positive and negative). Of course, I’m biased because a good friend of mine has lived with a transplanted heart now since 1991, and I learned from here a lot of info about the amount of people who die because ignorant slugs don’t want to consent to donation, or whose families are so in grief that they can’t give approval.

I would agree with the Brits that this should involve a long public debate and involvement from various groups. But it just might be good policy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No sh*t unaha! Really?! I had no idea!

I guess that makes it okay for everything else.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Call it snobbery if you wish, but I have absolutely no respect for the decision not to donate organs out of some emotional reaction or belief. I can respect an argument that it should be voluntary and incentives could be built in (both positive and negative). Of course, I’m biased because a good friend of mine has lived with a transplanted heart now since 1991, and I learned from here a lot of info about the amount of people who die because ignorant slugs don’t want to consent to donation, or whose families are so in grief that they can’t give approval.
What...emotion....making your decision for you here?

It’s their body, not the government’s.
This is so fundamental it shouldn’t have to be discussed.

It may be their religious belief system that is against it.
It may be their own emotional belief system. Just because some people don’t want themselves divvied up after death, or have their beloved relatives divvied up, doesn’t make them ’ignorant’.
You embrace different cultures and governments and thinking....this is different thinking than yours, embrace it.
I can respect an argument that it should be voluntary and incentives could be built in (both positive and negative)
That’s the argument - it should remain voluntary.
People’s reasons are their own.

We haven’t even ventured into the discussion of sudden upswing in government costs and administration - Harvesting, storage facilities, delivery and the creation of massive numbers of new teams to utilize a, now, readily available ’resource’.
Or started to review ’market’ questions about what the shift in availability of a resource will mean - for example -

-Is transplant now a ’right’?
-Does it become so available some lines of useful medical research are stymied becuase it’s ’easier to transplant than to save’?
-Is it reserved for citizens only, or can any foreign national wander in there and take advantage of those spare British parts?

Not to mention avenues I’m excluding because, to me, on their surface (and the surface of a new procedure) they don’t appear to be related, but ultimately could be, like....raising and harvesting clone parts.
Harvesting from hardened criminals (since they have no death penalty might it change their view on that since now a horrendous criminal can be useful again....)
etc.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
It’s their body, not the government’s.
Once they are dead, I find that point to be irrelevant. It seems to me that the body is merely a shell at that point, good for spare parts and otherwise to be discarded.

And you’re making this all more complicated than it needs to be by imagining all sorts of things. All that would happen is that if there is someone on the list who needs a part and if someone has just died and has that part, then it becomes available. No mass harvesting, no storage facilities, or anything like that.

I have no problem with cloning body parts or cloning in general — science always seem to win out in these kinds of battles. Indeed, cloning might be the solution to the problem, especially if people can’t get over their dead body fetish.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Oh, as to emotion driving my thinking, here’s a bit from my blog on October 12, 2007. I tend to agree with Hume, sentiment and emotion must be a part of our moral thinking process:

Ethics for Hume come from sentiment, and not rational thought. Trying to come up with ethics from some kind of rational process isn’t possible, all you need do is change assumptions or principles and the whole system collapses. Moreover, people who are not very intelligent or rational may be very moral and kind, while some of the worst criminals in history had brilliant and exceedingly rational minds. In fact, to develop moral character Hume thought we should read novels, we need to learn that others have value like ourselves. After all, when you look at the atrocities of human history, the devaluing of others, either by dint of their ethnic group or through ideological rationalization, seems a necessary condition to get mass publics to engage in heinous crimes. Hume sets up a utilitarian form of ethics, noting that we seem to have strong negative sentiment about things detrimental to society, and positive sentiment about things beneficial. Ethics, after all, entail how we treat others, and how we act in society.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Once they are dead, I find that point to be irrelevant. It seems to me that the body is merely a shell at that point, good for spare parts and otherwise to be discarded.
And I’m not trying to tell you you can’t continue with this view. What I’m suggesting is others may not hold to it, and that doesn’t make them ignorant, or irrational, or stupid, but moral and kind.
All that would happen is that if there is someone on the list who needs a part and if someone has just died and has that part, then it becomes available. No mass harvesting, no storage facilities, or anything like that.
That’s not the implication in this portion of the post...
The taskforce report - to be released on Tuesday - calls for a senior doctor to be appointed in every hospital as a "champion" of donation, along with a lay person to spread the message about the importance of donation locally.

The force, which is to publish a report on "presumed consent" this summer, hopes its 14 recommendations will lead to 50 per cent more donations in five years.

It admits to a possible "conflict of interest" between medical staff, trying to save lives and those keen to ensure every possible organ is harvested. Dr Kevin Gunning, an intensive care consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and a member of the UK Transplant’s advisory group, said the measures could put doctors and relatives under pressure. "If, as a doctor you have turned your thoughts to your patient being a donor when they are still living, that is a real conflict."
It takes specialized teams to extract organs for transplant.
And there has to be matching done to reduce the chance of rejection.
And what if the guy who just died, down the hall, as it were, isn’t a donor for the guy who needs the new kidney, and in fact, that donor just died from a car wreck in Glasgow, when the patient who needs it is in London. Those are the situations that happen now....
so if the point is to make more available, then they’re going to have to improve on the current mechanisms, that means storing them, because, after all, the living storage facility donor might not be in THIS hospital and might not help out by dieing before this other person needs that organ.

If I’m going to schedule a surgery for a transplant the organs should be available then for the surgery, this is not quite the same as keeping the car in the shop overnight while we order the part you know?
To make more available, you to store them, or presume people are going to accomodate you by dying on schedule.
"If, as a doctor you have turned your thoughts to your patient being a donor when they are still living, that is a real conflict."
The last bit makes the point about farming - a living container for organs better used in someone else.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

 
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