The Nova Scotia Government Claims Its Citizens' Bodies
On April 2nd, the liberal government of Nova Scotia, led by Premier Stephen McNeil, brought forth Bill 133, the “Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act”. One of the most insidious and dangerous elements of this Bill is found in section 11, which asserts: “the individual is deemed to consent to the individual's organs and tissues being used for transplantation activities.”
In other words, Nova Scotians are all (with a few exceptions) made automatic organ donors, relinquishing their bodies to the government’s control by default.
While many in the media are uncritically lauding this proposal, a very critical question is being overlooked.
The question is not: Is organ donation good or bad? That is a whole different discussion.
The question is: Who owns your body?
There is no jurisdiction in all of North America that permits the government to seize its citizens’ body parts after they die without their prior consent. If Bill 133 passes, Nova Scotia will be the first to do so – under the euphemism of “presumed consent”.
However, the concept of “presumed consent” is nothing but doublespeak.
According to the dictionary, “consent” is defined as “agreement to what is proposed.” If you are unaware or unsure of what is proposed, or if you haven’t actually agreed to it, how can anyone “presume” you have consented?
A free, informed consent requires that you understand what is happening and explicitly agree to it. “Presumed consent” robs you of your voice and, when it comes to organ donation, robs you of your body! You are no longer “donating” your organs, they are being seized.
This is the height of liberal government arrogance and intrusiveness.
If Bill 133 passes, Nova Scotians will lose their right to control their own bodies. People will be treated as pieces of meat – ready to be chopped up and distributed to others deemed more needy. It is an utterly dehumanizing, utilitarian policy. It is fit for the butcher, not the doctor.
Who knows how this will impact patient care and treatment? Will certain critically ill patients with “healthy organs” be hastened to their demise? Will those with a chronic illness be “encouraged” to be euthanized for the sake of their organs? Will this policy result in the ranking of patients in terms of who is deemed “more worthy” or “less worthy” of life-saving care?
Yes, from a utilitarian perspective, presumed consent could possibly yield more healthy organs for those in need. Yes, it may even save some lives. But it will also likely end some lives prematurely. Plus it comes at the price of our human dignity, autonomy, and our right to control our own bodies. And that is not worth giving up without a fight!
Interestingly, Bill 133 contains four exceptions. Your consent is not presumed if you are 1) incompetent, if you are 2) a non-resident, if you are 3) a minor, or if you 4) register your non-consent. This begs the question: If there is nothing ethically wrong with the concept of “presumed consent”, then why are there any exceptions at all? If minors and the incompetent cannot be “presumed” to have consented, then why would anyone else be “presumed”? This is truly insidious – and it sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Canada and North America.
Let’s tell Premier Stephen McNeil and Health Minister Randy Delorey that presumed consent is NOT consent. It is nothing less than an affront to our human dignity and human rights. The government does not own our bodies – and they cannot tell us what to do with them!
FOR FURTHER READING
-National Post (April 2nd, 2019): https://nationalpost.com/news/n-s-to-adopt-presumed-consent-for-organ-donations-under-new-legislation
-Text of Bill 133 (“Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act”): https://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/63rd_2nd/1st_read/b133.htm
-Article from the Royal College of Surgeons of England against presumed consent in the UK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3363073/
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Rethink Bill 133 - You Do Not Own My Body