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Scotland to presume consent for organ donation with ‘soft opt-out” law

CARE for Scotland's parliamentary officer, Gordon Macdonald

CARE for Scotland’s parliamentary officer, Gordon Macdonald

Scottish lawmakers announced last week that the government will introduce a “soft opt-out” system for organ donation. The system, which has raised medical ethics questions in other countries, presumes consent unless an individual has opted-out of donations before their death.

“We have made a transforming decision in Scottish politics,” said Anne McTaggart, a lawmaker in the previous Parliament who initially presented the “opt-out” bill.

This system is an attempt to increase the number of life-saving organ donations. The nation has recently invested heavily in donation campaigns, consultations, and petitions. Last year alone, a record-breaking number of people who were waiting for a transplant received an organ they needed, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.


“The State does not have a right to anyone’s organs. Even a so called soft opt-out system ruins the nature of organ donation as an altruistic gift,” said Dr Gordon Macdonald from CARE Scotland, a Christian action group.

Dr Calum MacKellar, of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB) believes the system creates a “very significant risk for serious mistakes,” with no guarantee that a deceased’s wishes are followed and a risk for public confidence to be undermined, thereby impacting overall donation levels.

• Full story at Law Street.

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