Humanists back opt-out bill for organ donation

Humanist Society Scotland has declared its support for Anne McTaggart MSP’s Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc.) (Scotland) Bill.

Scotland currently operates an opt-in organ donation system where a person has to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their death. The proposed Bill would introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system (in addition to the current opt-in system). Under an opt-out system there would be a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation unless a person had registered an objection in advance.

An opt-in proposal was approved in Wales in 2013, and is due to come into effect next month. The British Medical Association (which supports soft opt-out in principle) expects this to increase the number of organs available for donation.

Public opinion is clearly in favour of a change to soft opt-in. A 2012 poll in Wales found 63% of people in favour of a change. A more recent Scottish poll from September 2015 found majority support for the change.

Gary McLelland, Head of Communications and Public Affairs for HSS, will be attending an informal meeting of the Health and Sport Committee today (12th November 2015) where he will outline the Society’s support of the proposed Bill.

Speaking ahead of this Gary said:

“This is an ethical choice for Scottish society. It is a choice between doing what we can to save more lives by removing unnecessary barriers or continuing to leave barriers in the way.

“At Humanist Society Scotland we believe that the evidence clearly supports this change.”


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