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Thursday, April 29, 2010

New York's Mandatory Organ Donor Bill Is An Affront to Liberty

By Daryl Luna, Editor at:
*In Defense of the Constitution*

An alarming movement is afoot in New York. Already New Yorkers are told what they can eat and how they can defend themselves (among other things). Now they may lose total control of their bodies. Legislation is being proposed that will create mandatory "organ donor" status for all residents of the Empire State.

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. One may ask , "What's wrong with everyone being an organ donor?" But the issue is more than one of organ donor status; the mandatory nature of the legislation is what makes this bill so appalling.

The decision to donate part of one's body is a personal one in which the government has no legitimate role. Aside from violating the decisions regarding one's own body, this law could easily violate religious liberty. A number of religions and religious sects have adherents who refuse to separate organs from the body based on religious conviction.

Agree with them or not, we should all be concerned when religious liberty is at stake. Indeed, this continent has been purposed for such liberty since the landing of the Pilgrims. So as a CBS article notes, "Legal experts said if the law is passed, it will likely face challenges in court from family members or some religious groups."

Another concern beyond that of basic personal liberty is one of ethics. There is no problem with assisting the ill through the donation of organs, but there is a possible ethical dilemma in a "blank check" approach to how organs are used.

With expanding experimental research and the changing cultural tides, questionable usage of one's organs is a real and prevalent concern. If one cannot be guaranteed their organs will be ethically used, the problems with the New York legislation multiplies. Truly, we must protect freedom of conscience.

The issue at hand in New York is not one of organ donation; rather, it is a battle over personal liberty. It is the latest front in a battle over individuals and their unalienable property rights.

If the state wants to make it easier for people to sign up as organ donors, educate citizens on the matter, or do something similar, that is completely permissible. But if they want to violate the personal decisions, religious liberty, or ethical concerns of its citizens, this should be fought against at every turn.

1 comment:

  1. I had to debate for mandatory organ donation once. Blood hard but I won. I don't support it on grounds of personal liberty, but here is the rough outline of what I argued:

    Article 29b of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    "In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society."

    A 1000 people die every year in the UK waiting for organs. In France and Spain, which are opt-out, only a few hundred die.

    The general welfare of the people of the State supersedes your right to retain organs upon death. Equally, it can be argued you have no autonomy regarding your organs upon death, because, well, you're dead. The State can already dictate where and how you are disposed of once you are dead, as well as taking a share of your capital when you are alive. It is only a step further for it to claim a 'body tax' on top of inheritance tax.

    The argument from religion is largely false. All major religions support organ donation. Only fringe sects are opposed to it.

    And to fully destroy your religious stance, the High Court has finally ruled that it is not a valid argument: Lord Justice Laws [an ironic name] has ruled legislation for the protection of views held purely on religious grounds cannot be justified.

    He said it was irrational and "also divisive, capricious and arbitrary". [admittedly this applies to the UK only, and your US Constitution is different to our system]


    There are only 2 real arguments against this:

    Kantian ethics (the ends do not justify the means, so saving lives is not greater than the violation of personal liberty)

    and that autonomy is retained upon death (in which case, inheritance tax and laws on burial are also potential illegal)


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