Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Archive

Illinois, New York Consider ‘Presumed Consent’ Organ Harvesting Bills (2010)

An Illinois senator is pushing legislation that would allow doctors to harvest organs from citizens who have not explicitly given consent for the procedure. The Journal Star reported Monday that a hearing was scheduled this week for Sen. Dale Risinger’s bill that would establish a “presumed consent” policy governing organ donation for individuals 18 and older.

Under the proposed legislation, individuals who wish to avoid donating their organs would have to explicitly opt-out of donating their organs prior to becoming incapacitated.

If passed, the law would be the first of its kind in America.

[; Life Site News; ALL Pro-Life Today, 5Mar10]



New York Proposes ‘Presumed Consent’ Organ Harvesting Law

Citing the shortage in organs available for transplant, a state assemblyman in New York has proposed that all citizens of the state become automatically enrolled as candidates for organ harvesting.

New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has introduced a new bill in Albany that aims to enroll all New Yorkers as organ donors unless they take action to opt out.

If passed, Brodsky’s bill would become the first such law the U.S. However, a similar bill was also introduced in Illinois earlier this year.

“We have 10,000 New Yorkers on the list today waiting for organs. We import half the organs we transplant. It is an unacceptable failed system,” Brodsky said, according to CBS News 2. Brodsky pointed to other nations who have passed similar laws that now are in force “without a lot of controversy.”

Despite the altruistic goal of such legislation, the current practice of organ harvesting has increasingly alarmed the pro-life community, as evidence continues to surface that the prerequisite “brain death” is often defined to ease the process of collecting fresher organs, rather than according to whether a person has actually died. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine confirmed these fears in a 2008 article that backed up the notion that “brain dead” patients are often, in fact, still alive.

Cases such as that of 21-year-old Zack Dunlap, whose organs were nearly harvested before he suddenly responded to a family member’s last-ditch attempt to communicate with him, have forced pro-life doctors to question how many other donors were in fact alive and responsive to pain at the time their organs were removed.

According to LSN medical advisor Dr. John Shea, such donors are often given drugs to paralyze muscles before the process, to prevent them from moving, making it impossible to know whether they are aware or not. In a 2008 New York Times article on the use of anesthetic in neonatal operations, anesthesiologist Mark Rosen noted in passing that stress hormones are known to increase in “brain dead” patients during the organ harvesting process.

The question of “brain death” has even received attention by the Catholic Church: In a Vatican conference on “brain death” last year, doctors informed officials of evidence that the death of an organ donor occurs, not at the point of “brain death,” but due to the removal of his or her vital organs. Pope Benedict XVI warned the conference that “the main criterion” for organ removal must be “respect for the life of the donor so that the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of his actual death.”

Related: Melbourne Doctor: Most Donors Still Alive when Organs are Removed

Illinois Considers ‘Presumed Consent’ Organ Harvesting Bill

New England Journal of Medicine: ‘Brain Death’ is not Death

Doctors Who Almost Dissected Living Patient Confess Ignorance about Actual Moment of Death

Doctor Says about “Brain Dead” Man Saved from Organ Harvesting – “Brain Death is Never Really Death”

Denver Coroner Rules “Homicide” in Organ-Donor Case

Russian Surgeons Removing Organs Saying Patients Almost Dead Anyway
[April 29, 2010, Kathleen Gilbert,
See this article at for several imbedded links]