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Government to introduce ‘opt-out’ organ donation in England

(Image: PA)

The British government will introduce “presumed consent” for organ donation in England, Prime Minister Theresa May announced today.

In her speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Mrs May the government was “shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation”, meaning authorities will automatically assume people are organ donors unless they have specifically said otherwise.

The Conservative Party also tweeted that they will “introduce an opt-out system for organ donation”, explaining: “Last year 500 people died waiting for a transplant because a suitable organ was not available.”

The move will likely raise serious ethical concerns.

Professor John Fabre of Kings College London has previously spoken out against the idea, saying it would “degrade the ethical framework of our society… into one of the state taking back what it thinks is its, while intruding on one of the most personal and delicate moments of a family’s life”.

“No longer would we be free autonomous individuals, but rather we would become nationalised property that the state reclaims after our death,” he said.

Church leaders strongly criticised an attempt by the Welsh government to introduce such a scheme in 2012. They described it as an “ill-judged” proposal that raised serious questions over personal autonomy.

In a submission the Welsh government’s consultation, they wrote: “If organs may be taken without consent, this is no longer ‘donation’. This is not just a health matter but concerns serious human rights issues such as personal autonomy, as well as questions about the relationship of the state and the citizen.

“At the same time the belief that presumed consent would itself increase the number of organs available for transplantation is not supported by the available evidence.”