Close to a dozen lawmakers in NY are proposing two new bills which together would create a system that makes all New Yorkers organ donors without specifically volunteering.
The first law would create a model of "presumed consent" in which doctors could remove the organs of a deceased individual over the age of 18 without the permission of his or her family.
The second bill would allow people to "opt out" of the presumed consent system,forcing them to petition the state for ownership of their body before they die if they don't wish to become a donor.
Though most of the articles reporting on the bills have highlighted the medical benefits of organ donation and shared the stories of what motivated the lawmakers proposing the legislation,few articles have pointed out that the bills place the will of the state over that of the individual in regards to what is essentially the individual's most personal private property.
Looking past the emotional spin that much of the press has placed on the story over lives that are at stake, it's not hard to see that individual liberties are also at stake. While there is nothing wrong if a person expressly volunteers to donate his or her vital organs after he/she dies with the hope that another may benefit from them, a presumed consent system would legally make a person's organs the property of their government, not themselves. An opt out bill, though providing a way for New Yorkers to shed their "presumed consent" status,would still shift the labor onto citizens to reclaim what is already theirs, since ownership of one's body is the most basic of human rights.
Just as doctors can't take what's in a dead patient's wallet and donate it to charity, so too can't they take what's under a dead patient's skin and give it to someone else unless they have that patient's signed consent to do so.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, said that if passed the bill would take effect overnight, adding that "People will be alive on Tuesday if this bill is signed on a Monday." However, his statement says little of how a system allowing New Yorkers to "opt out" of being organ donors could be set up just as quickly once their "presumed consent" status is established with the stroke of a pen.
So far, neither of the bills has any sponsors in the New York Senate.