Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Mandatory organ donation: Welsh Assembly nationalises the human body

Without very much fuss at all, the Welsh Assembly has enacted the ultimate nationalisation: from 2015, they will adopt a system of organ donation in the Principality of presumed consent: that is, unless you carry a donor opt-out card, your eyes, lungs, hearts, liver, pancreas, kidneys, (face?) - any body part deemed useful by the medical profession - can, on death, be appropriated by state organ bandits and harvested for the common good.

Presently, of course, organ donation is voluntary: it is a gift (hence 'donation'). You either opt-in by joining the donor register, or the family of the deceased agrees to the donation. The Welsh Assembly has turned this principle on its head: the default position now is that the deceased was in favour of donation and, as a matter of law, his or her consent is deemed. Organs are no longer to be freely donated but automatically appropriated by state mandate.

This is organ taxation.

The new law will apply to everyone over 18 who has lived in Wales for at least a year.

There are three exemptions: non-Welsh university students; Welsh people who die in another part of the UK; and individuals lacking the mental capacity to make a decision on the matter.

Opposition has come from Christian churches (CofE here) as well as within Muslim and Jewish communities. Critics claim it will cause extra distress for bereaved families, and could put medical staff in a difficult position. If your loved one is on life support, they will be viewed as nothing more than an organ incubator. A heart is of little use once it has stopped beating: these things are best harvested from the living (or 'brain dead').

The views of the Christians and Jews will be set aside, for this is the default position of the state.

But many Muslims believe that the body must be buried whole. There are cultural variations surrounding Islamic funerals with regard to preparation of the body and burial customs, but all practising Muslims believe that death is a departure from this world; not the end of a person's existence.

There is no uniformity of belief in Islam on organ donation. The general rule that 'necessities permit the prohibited' (al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat) is adduced by some to support the practice: organ donation can save or enhance the life of another, and so the benefits outweigh the personal cost. And the Qur'an says: 'Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind' (5:32).

But the alternative view advanced by Islamic scholars is that organ donation is prohibited. 'They consider that organ donation compromises the special honour accorded to man and this cannot be allowed whatever the cost. Scholars, such as the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, allow live donations only.' (Mufti Mohammed Zubair Butt, Muslim Council of Britain).

Muslims may carry donor cards and, in the absence of such a card, the next of kin of a dead person may grant consent. But beliefs vary according to cultural origin: Indo/Pak Muslims generally oppose organ donation; Arab Muslims generally view it favourably. According to Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari. 'A very famous Hadith prevents the usage of human parts. Sayyida Asma bint Abi Bakr (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: Allah's curse is on a woman who wears false hair (of humans) or arranges it for others' (Sahih Muslim, no. 2122).'

The theo-cultural issuers are complex. Ultimately, it comes down to subjective judgments of relative benefit and harm. But in that individual judgment is personal freedom, or a corporate family expression of informed consent. Why, at the moment of profound grief, should a family have to contend with the state over who owns the body of their loved one? And what if they do not agree? Why should a family be torn asunder over who gets grandpa's eyes?

All it will take is for one justifiably aggrieved Muslim family to have their traumatic story emblazoned across the tabloids for the issues of religious liberty to be revisited (or visited for the first time). What's the betting that a fourth group will eventually be granted a blanket exemption from this collectivist corporeal death tax?


Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

An excellent topic, if one might say Archbishop. The Inspector may court controversy here, but he’s going to say it all the same. Although one can never know what it would be truly like to be on an organ donor list, or to have a loved one who is, unless it has actually happened to you, there is an uncomfortable feeling around the near deceased that they ‘owe’ society, if anything can be successfully salvaged. Rather reminiscent of examples of the lower orders of life, ants, mice, that consume their own dead rather than let it go to waste.

What is one of the greatest gifts man can bestow on his fellow, the use of these intimate parts, becomes nothing but a routine stripping. nothing more than the rights of the needy over the bereaved. A ghastly idea.

Combine this with the abolition of gender so favoured by contemporary politicians, and we really are heading down the automaton route...

3 July 2013 at 10:56  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Abp: I don't think you told us where we can get one of those DON'T CARDs you depicted ... I want one now (and I don't live in Wales).(Maybe you have to download it and print it yourself)

3 July 2013 at 11:15  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Why not help people to live, if otherwise they would die, by using organs that would otherwise rot in the ground? I thought you lot were ”pro life"?

3 July 2013 at 11:15  
Blogger Albert said...


I think you are missing the point. I agree with organ donation, but the human person and his body does not belong to the state, nor to anyone else, thus under any just system, permission must be sought first, not assumed.

This is what happens when a society loses its sense of natural law. The state simply becomes a power with its own sense of entitlement. It seems to own us, our property and our institutions, unless we can show otherwise.

3 July 2013 at 11:27  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Watterson, spoken like the red you are. Same goes for an individuals wealth of course. Take it off him and spread it around. Let people ‘live’ a little at someone else's expense...

3 July 2013 at 11:28  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I have great sympathy for those, and their relatives, waiting for gifts of organs. I would support a program of tasteful "advertising" encouraging such gifts, with the decision being made by those when they are sound and able to make such decisions freely, beforehand. All that is fine.
But for The State to appropriate all the bodies of people who happen to reside in Wales is a monstrous act more appropriate to a totalitarian Government, and it brings shame on the country of my upbringing, Wales. Nowadays as they drift into deeper forms of socialism I rejoice that I did not return there after my University education in England.
I seldom agree with the views of the ultra-Liberal Archbishop Wales, but in this case he is right in pointing out that they are well meaning that this but will cause problems. Indeed I believe that it will cause heartache and pain for the bereaved.
For myself I do not retain sufficient trust in the efficiency of the NHS, anywhere in the UK, and public bodies in general, to trust them to do the right thing with my body or that of a relative.
This change is deeply threatening and a grave mistake. I hope that it is soon challenged legally.

3 July 2013 at 11:35  
Blogger Albert said...


a grave mistake !!

In the end, the West will keep on making up unjust laws, until we as people grow out of the delusion that utilitarianism is a form of morality.

3 July 2013 at 11:42  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

I see this as conscription rather than taxation.

In a free society organ donation would be voluntary. Jolly decent of the Statists to allow conscientious objectors to opt out but who pays for the cards?

When the Health Minister finds it necessary to say "this legislation is nothing to be scared of" we can be sure there are good reasons why people should feel apprehensive.

3 July 2013 at 11:47  
Blogger Preacher said...

Chilling how the state presumes to take possession of everything.
Voluntary donation is one thing, but state reclamation is a horse of a different colour.
Another example of the powers that be attempting to reduce mankind to a scrapyard mentality.

3 July 2013 at 11:58  
Blogger Craig Marshall said...

It's an opt-out system just like other countries have adopted around the world.
If you don't want to be a donor, just opt-out. Simple.

3 July 2013 at 12:41  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Inspector. If you prefer a world where a tiny proportion of the people hold all the wealth, I think you're getting your wish. I thought greed was a sin though?

3 July 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger Jim McLean said...

Cranmer's article highlights that organ donation should be seen as a Donation, as a societal and cultural choice.

Although Religion / Faith is used to illustrate the feelings and views of different groups, it is an illustration only. This is about individuality and freedom. There is no reason why an atheist or any other human being should be denied the opportunity - as an individual - to donate organs or to exercise his or her right not to donate.

For any govt to believe it has the right to legislate on this matter it is appalling. For it to have the power to do so is frightening.

3 July 2013 at 12:48  
Blogger Jim McLean said...

Successive governments across the world have for the last thirty years attempted to address the decline in social and community cohesion by legislating in matters which as a result of the decline in community, are causing society its problems.

We need to de-globalise and re-build individual nations, each with their own cultural identity and stop interfering with other countries just because they do not conform to a global view of the world as seen by a very few politicians.

3 July 2013 at 12:53  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Some wonderful succinct phrases here: -

From Albert. "the delusion that utilitarianism is a form of morality"

Preacher. "reduce mankind to a scrap yard mentality"

All excellent stuff !

And as Preacher says, "it is chilling how the state presumes to take possession of everything"

As more and more deeply illiberal laws pour out from the aggressively leftists, it must sooner or later create an equal and opposite reaction from a broad swathe of the public, with a resultant clash of ideas. This is not the peaceful situation that I would want at all, but one does get the distinct feeling that basic freedoms are being attacked almost daily now. Truly the state is over mighty and needs to be shrunk significantly I feel.

3 July 2013 at 13:00  
Blogger gentlemind said...

This policy is not so much "the ultimate nationalisation", more a logical expression of a past policy through which the State assumed that it is the entity that ordains us with the right to life: abortion.

When will they start delivering the recycling bins?

3 July 2013 at 13:15  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Soylent Green anyone?

3 July 2013 at 13:28  
Blogger Nick said...

The Welsh assembly is full of lefties, nationalists, and euromaniacs who care little for issues of morality. Treating our bodies as th property of the state is th ultimate insult to a population already betrayed by its leaders over issues of gender, immigration, and sovereignty.

3 July 2013 at 14:46  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Good post at 3 July 2013 11:27.

When people stop believing in God, they start looking for ways to extend their material existence. "Do I have a defective organ? Well, then, get me another. I must keep living." Other people become a resource to be mined. It's a desperate and futile race to defer the inevitable for as along as possible. It is not a coincidence that such a law originates in a secular culture. Man becomes an object to be used by other objects. This isn't about compassion. It's about coveting. Men climbing atop one another to occupy the highest position in a sinking life boat.

The West is obsessed with denying the reality of death. It embalms and pretties up the corpse. It places the corpse into an expensive sealed box lest corruption and worms consume it. We shake our fist at heaven and say "I am NOT dust, and I shall NOT return to dust." The Patriarchs had no such luxury. They were reduced to bones and then bones to the dust of their very existence. And yet they shall see God in their flesh.

I have been an organ donor my whole life. If the living have need of my parts, then they are free to exploit them. I am not thereby deprived. No matter the dust to which I am eventually reduced, I will be reformed from that dust. I will once again stand, and see and breathe, and comprehend, and declare "Christ is Lord" to the Glory of God the Father.

As will we all.


3 July 2013 at 14:55  
Blogger Albert said...


It's good to read your post - I hadn't seen anything from you for some time, and since the last post of yours that I read indicated you'd injured yourself, I was a bit worried.

Your comments about dust are intriguing. I find that many people say they want to be cremated because they don't like the idea of rotting in a coffin, being eaten by worms etc. I can sympathise with that, but I wonder if it is part of the hopelessness you are talking about - particularly given the traditional Christian teaching that only burial was acceptable because of the resurrection. Perhaps people prefer that their bodies cease to exist at all (insofar as this is possible) than that they slowly, by natural processes, return to dust.

3 July 2013 at 15:05  
Blogger richardhj said...


One of the things about being pro-life (and in my case married to a nurse) is the education that you get in the way that some hospitals/ medical professionals might see a gravely ill person.

They are not always quite as careful as they could be in keeping you alive even if it just means that they will get the bed back. Imagine what a hurry they can be in when they think that not only will they get the bed, but lots of body parts too. Abp Cranmer's reference to an "Organ Incubator" is just right.
My dad died 3 years ago today. The more I learn about backdoor and involuntary euthanasia, the more I wonder whether we should have gone along with the advice.

Gentlemind, (13:15) excellent post.
Have you seen Logan's Run? Why did you make me think of that?

3 July 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I hadn't seen anything from you for some time

Just a series of posts to which I didn't think I had anything of value to contribute. I'm OK.

particularly given the traditional Christian teaching that only burial was acceptable because of the resurrection

I have never understood that. We in the West spend obscene amounts of money on funerals. What possible reason is there to spend thousands of dollars on a water-tight, air-tight casket? But in the absence of that casket the body will inevitably be reduced to dust. Yet I can't understand why it matters. Try to find the remains of David. Can it be done? What difference the ash of cremation or the dust of decay? In 12 months it is all the same. God does not need the content of the coffin to refashion flesh onto bones.

I care nothing for coffins. A pine box is fit for purpose. Cremation is cheaper still. The difference matters not at all on the Last Day. What matters to me is the head stone. It is the last message I can leave to the world. The Last Testimony of my life. Funerals and cemeteries are for the living. Even in death we can declare to the living the Gospel in the chiseled marble of the stone.


3 July 2013 at 15:24  
Blogger gentlemind said...


Yes, I have seen Logan's Run. Equality applied to death. Abortion and Euthanasia create what I call a "bell curve of human worth". In the film, the law dictates the natural parameters of a human life. Perhaps my comment reminded you of that.

3 July 2013 at 15:52  
Blogger Jay said...

@Albert 15.05 - I talk to many people about their preference and their choice of cremation is usually based not on existential considerations but on the rather more prosaic grounds of cost.

3 July 2013 at 16:33  
Blogger Albert said...


I'm sure you're right. It's just that (oddly) I've had a few conversations recently with people entirely in the abstract (but arising from context, if you see what I mean) about which we would prefer. From this anecdotal evidence, it seems to me that cost aside, most people want to be cremated, not buried - for the reasons I gave.

3 July 2013 at 16:53  
Blogger Albert said...


I have never understood that.

I think it's to do with symbolism. Hence present Catholic teaching permits cremation provided it is not seen as a denial of the resurrection of the body.

3 July 2013 at 16:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

On balance, I think I'm pro-life on this.

3 July 2013 at 17:03  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

I think the current situation of wanting to give organ donation is the right thing. I'm a blood doner, which is voluntary, but I feel somewhat under pressure when I get e-mails, calls, text messages, to tell me to donate blood. I wonder how people would feel if there was an "opt out" of blood donation... otherwise you'd have to donate bloody every six months...

As for organ donation, I'm not sure about this, but I think the state has crossed the line being a 'donation' and a forced 'gift'. How many people will be able to fill in the forms to opt out and how many people will be aware/bothered/care until it comes to 'harvesting' the organs?

3 July 2013 at 18:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Richard Watterson. If you prefer a world where a tiny proportion of the people hold all the wealth, I think you're getting your wish. I thought greed was a sin though?

Damn me ! You are brazenly honest, Sir. Good man though – normally you’d have to twist a ‘with it’ socialist’s arm up his back before he admits that given the chance, he’d rob you blind. Until of course, he has money of his own, then he’s a little less socialist and a lot more understanding of the responsibilities that come with wealth.

Is it possible to be wealthy and not greedy ? You bet your hat it is…

3 July 2013 at 18:34  
Blogger Waywalker said...

An excellent post Your Grace I was sure you would have something to say as soon I heard the news on the Beeb this morning.

I was not surprised at all. It show commendable foresight on behalf of the people of Wales. As science has proven that man is no more than complex mix chemicals and nothing more we are bound to want to improve and exploit this useful resource.

We are already improving production beyond natures limitations by introducing cloning and three way fertilisation. We are getting more advanced at removing faulty units at early stage of production.

Further more we are freeing mature units from breeding responsibility and we are in process of removing any links between biological reproduction and human relationships. The core human relationship soon will have no links to reproductive responsibility. Children will no be tethered by biological necessity to a pair adults.

Other far sighted governments already see the utility in allowing units that no longer wish to function to be terminated and they will now be able to harvest what's left to put to good use.

It a brave new world opening before us..

Soylent Green for supper anyone?

3 July 2013 at 18:35  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

"Soylent Green for supper anyone?"

Nah. It's just not Kosher...

3 July 2013 at 18:55  
Blogger LEN said...

Keep out of Wales or the body snatchers might get you.

Like something out of 'Burke and Hare.'

3 July 2013 at 19:08  
Blogger Peter D said...

"What difference the ash of cremation or the dust of decay?"

Carbon footprint and global warming? They've even developed a method of dissolving bodies in an acid solution now and the bereaved are given a bottle of liquid!

Anyway, back to the thread's topic, the very idea of the State claiming ownership of one's body is an outrage.

3 July 2013 at 19:17  
Blogger William Lewis said...


Well put. You clearly see the way we are all walking. Tis rather broad.

3 July 2013 at 19:21  
Blogger richardhj said...

Soylent Green (which I hadn't heard of until now)
Brave New World
The Time Machine
Logan's Run.

Fiction or prediction?

3 July 2013 at 19:51  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I am a registered organ donor, for a number of reasons. Not least that if my seven year old son was suffering from some appalling illness for which his only hope was a transfer, I would feel a complete hypocrite for saying "take a donated organ to save my child, but you can't have one of mine if something happens to me."

Frankly, I could live with the idea of an opt-in organ donation system, if I thought I could trust the integrity of the people running the system.

And therein lies the problem, as many others have said.

As far as funerals go, I've always rather fancied a woodland burial when my time comes. Plant a tree on what remains. It has a peaceful feeling to it.

3 July 2013 at 20:22  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Opt out, sorry, not opt-in. Opt-in is what we have already. :)

3 July 2013 at 20:22  
Blogger Jay said...

I thought as Sister Tiberia said, that a woodland burial had a peaceful feeling to it but, irrationally, changed my mind when I heard that you are buried vertically which flies in the face of the notion of being 'laid to rest'...

On topic, it seems to me that in the past 15years (some will probably say even longer) Government has increasingly overstepped the limits of its legitimate authority which, in my opinion, is to deal with issues that can't be addressed on an individual level (and this seems to be happening in direct proportion to Governments' increasing lack of sovereign power). This decision is only another step in illegitimate state intrusion into the realm of individual decision-making.

The state can't even be trusted with the mechanics of it: given its track record can anyone trust it to find the opt-out instruction?

What with the Liverpool Deathway (sorry, forgot I was on Cranmer - Pathway) and this, I think that the state demonstrates, to paraphrase an earlier commenter, its view of human beings as owned expendables whose spare parts may be recycled.

3 July 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger OldJim said...

Carl & Ambert

Indeed. My great-grandfather decided that he wanted to be cremated - I was too young to really find out why. Our local priest was keen to have a chat with him to ensure that the preference was aesthetic or financial and not doctrinal, but after that he happily assented to it and to a scattering around the churchyard. I think that that's the correct balance - as you say, Carl, God isn't going to be prevented from resurrecting the body by any means; nor are we going to or intended to evade death and decomposition by our own efforts, no matter how hard we might rail. But I can equally understand why a priest might wish to receive assurances if he's to provide last rites and allow the ashes to rest on Church grounds - I for one have heard a lot of "scatter me in the river so that I might become one with all of the trees and birds and flowers" -- this strain of thought isn't merely aesthetic; or rather, it's an aesthetic manifestation of the doctrine of pantheism. A minister charged with the shepherding of a man so disposed is quite naturally going to wonder how deep this strain runs, and what its implications might be for the care of this man's soul.

As for the wider issue, I understand the pragmatic reason why it was adopted -- many people, quite willing in principle to donate organs, never find time or are given opportunity to give proper assent; I suppose that the thinking is that those who dread and oppose the idea can be expected to be more vocal in their own case when once the presumption is reversed.

Nonetheless, I share the broad concerns of the commentators here -- the state does seem to me to be implying a default ownership of bodies. Would it really have been so much more troublesome to make the completion of organ donation forms mandatory at regular intervals - say, triennially, or during the nearest GP checkup? That would secure the greater level of consent sought for medical provision, whilst not introducing any problematic claims of ownership by the state.

Hannah tells us of being pestered for blood donations, and under my proposed system I am sure that there would be quite a bit of pestering for organ donation - but pestering, whilst annoying, inconsiderate, sometimes even bullying, isn't nearly as philosophically objectionable as the assertion of presumed ownership. Especially when I can imagine that this system will lead to more bullying all of its own.

"Are you sure you want to opt out sir? Let me just introduce you to four year old Timothy" (sotto voce:) "You heartless..."

"Yes madam, I realise that you love him very very much blah blah blah but the fact remains that if we're to take his lungs, it needs to be now..."

9 July 2013 at 02:05  
Blogger richpeasant said...

NEVER NEVER EVER agree to donate organs. It is a big moneymaking industry. Remember you donate, and doctors then charge massive amounts for the operations. Organ trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Wealthy people around the world are always in need of new kidneys, new livers, new hearts and other body parts.

And guess who makes the money on all these organ transplants? The doctors, hospitals and drug companies, of course. Organ transplants are a hugely profitable industry — largely because they get the organs for free. Patients who are killed by these doctors are never paid for their organs. The fact that they “donate” them actually means they are donating their immensely valuable organs to a for-profit system that’s going to earn potentially millions of dollars off the organs of a single donor.
Keep in mind, transplanted organs are often infested with disease. You see, healthy people who make sure they get the right nutrition, don't tend to die as often. Hospitals — which happen to generate huge profits from the trade of transplant organs – have a strong financial incentive to declare you “medically dead” long before you’re actually lifeless. BE CAREFUL.

11 July 2013 at 12:38  

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