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Welsh organ donor bill to become law: The Church of England Newspaper, August 11, 2013 August 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Secretary of State for Wales will not block approval of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill, allowing the UK’s first programme that gives presumed approval for organ donation unless an individual makes a public declaration to opt out has been sent to Her Majesty the Queen for Royal Assent.

On 2 July 2013 the Welsh Assembly approved the bill over the objections of church and civil society groups, who argued the new law was an ill-considered assault on civil liberties. However, the Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford in June stated the law was needed to provide more organs.

There were not “enough organs for people who need them. About one person every week dies in Wales while on a waiting list. We have been working to improve the rate of organ donation and have had some success, but we’re looking to take the next step forward,” he said, adding that “around a third of the Welsh population is on the organ donor register, but well over two-thirds in surveys say they are happy to be organ donors. That other third is people who don’t get round to putting their names down. We’re hoping to make inroads into that.”

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev. Barry Morgan, had led the opposition to the bill saying it gave too much power to the state. While he supported organ donation, it “ought to be a gift of love, of generosity. If organs can be taken unless someone has explicitly registered an objection, that’s not an expression of love. It’s more a medical use of a body,” he told The Guardian.

Michael Wendell Thomas, vice-chairman of SPUC’s Wales region, on 2 August 2013 said the “collective weight of opinion has demonstrated that implementation of the Bill will be fraught with risk.”

“The case for ‘deemed consent’ as a valid form of consent was not investigated by the Welsh Assembly’s Health or Legislative Committees. The only basis for this kind of law is that the Welsh Government has deemed it so,” he said.

“To the ordinary non-lawyer, ‘deemed consent’ is a meaningless idea; to many eminent or expert people, such as the Archbishop of Wales, it is a ‘fiction’. True consent is explicit and voluntary, and is the only sound basis for laws concerning personal autonomy and permission to remove someone’s organs,” Mr. Wendell Thomas said.

Welsh church leaders reject presumed consent for organ donations: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 5. February 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Wales have expressed profound misgivings over government proposals to establish a presumed consent rule for organ donations.

The “positive ethos of donation as a free gift” the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox leaders said on 23 January 2012 was being “endangered by an ill-judged if well-intentioned proposal to move from voluntary donation to presumed consent.”

The statement follows a public meeting chaired by the Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, held in Cardiff on 21 January that explored the morality of consent in conversations with Roy Thomas, the Executive Chair of Kidney Wales Foundation, and Dr Chris Jones, Medical Director of NHS Wales.

While supporting the principle of organ donation, in their statement the church leaders urged the government to revisit its policy process.

“If the proposals in the White Paper are not subject to independent scrutiny then there is a real danger that a change in the law would alienate a significant proportion of the public and undermine the positive image of organ donation and the reputation of Wales. For while a high rate of voluntary donation speaks of a culture of generosity, a system of presumed consent would ‘turn donation into action by default’,” the church leaders said.

The statement endorsed by Dr. Morgan, the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack and the Archimandrite of the Wales Eastern Orthodox Mission, Fr. Dienoil, said the principles the government should follow in creating an organ donation policy must “seek to preserve the dignity and autonomy of every person whilst creating a proper framework in which the gift of human organs after death is precisely that – an act of solidarity, generosity and love.”

In November the Government published a white paper, “Proposals for Legislation on Organ and Tissue Donation” and the public consultation period ends on 31 January 2012.  Under the Welsh government proposal, the problem of a shortage of organ donations would be cured by having everyone in Wales automatically become a donor unless they opted out.

However, the church leaders’ statement said the “most effective way to increase rates of both organ donation and family agreement to donation after death is to encourage people to sign the Organ Donation Register and to talk about the issue with relatives and those close to them.”