Isle of Man politician Martyn Perkins is to introduce a private member’s bill to the House of Keys, the island’s legislative body, to introduce an opt-out register for organ donors, similar to the one in place in Wales since 2015. This follows on from announcements in 2017 by the UK and Scottish Governments that England and Scotland will both be adopting this approach, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey are also in the process of moving towards a soft opt-out system. Humanists UK has welcomed this announcement.
Martyn Perkins has published a draft of this bill and a public consultation has been launched to seek the views of islanders on this change. Currently only 15% of islanders are registered with the NHS Organ Donor Register. Polling has consistently shown that the majority of people are willing to donate their organs after death but many fail to register this intent. Moving to an opt-out system could dramatically increase the number of organs available for transplant, saving lives.
If this bill finds political support it would mean that all parts of the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies are either committed to or considering introducing this system, with the exception of Northern Ireland where, despite support from most of the major political parties, a private member’s bill to introduce it was rejected in January 2016. Since the introduction of opt-out organ donation in Wales, more governments across Europe, including France, have adopted similar policies, with the Parliament of the Netherlands passing legislation on this issue in February this year.
Humanists UK, which successfully campaigned for the introduction of opt-out organ donation in Wales and has been supporting the introduction of similar registers in Scotland, England, and the Channel Islands, will be supporting these proposals and responding to the consultation in due course.
Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘We’re delighted to see that the tide is turning on opt-out organ donation across the UK and now the crown dependencies as well, and we welcome this move from Isle of Man legislators. By having the confidence to address this issue head-on and move past people’s taboos, we can create a more rational and more humane model which will save countless lives while protecting individuals’ right to choose.’
For further comment or information, please contact Rachel Taggart-Ryan on email@example.com or 0781 55 89 636.
Respond to the Isle of Man consultation here: https://consult.gov.im/office-of-the-clerk-of-tynwald/organ-donation-bill-2018/
Read more about Humanists UK’s work on organ donation: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/organ-donation/
Humanists UK campaigns for a move away from an ‘opt-in’ system of consent to donating organs to a ‘soft opt-out’ system where a deceased person over the age of 16 is presumed to have consented to their organs being donated, unless they had specifically stated otherwise and their family members know of no prior objection. This system is currently in operation in Wales.
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Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk