Organ donation or Organ Harvesting?
by Vencedor on February 10, 2015 - 2:56pm
Despite our recent shortcomings in the global scene, Canada is still seen as a bastion for humanitarian and fair practices. With our Universal Health Care, many social programs and our relatively peaceful political decisions, Canada is seen in a positive light around the world as well as a leader in beneficial policies. However, Canada is surprisingly backwards in organ donation. Organ donations are extremely important and one person can save/improve the life of up to 5 people with each donation, yet Canada has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the developed world. According to CTV news only around 20% of all Canadians enter the organ donation registry. This is extremely low and it results in a massive waiting list for people that need organs. Many solutions have been proposed to solve this problem, including more campaigns to increase awareness of the issue but they have proved to be largely ineffective. Considering the immense need of organs today as well as the small percentage of viable donors per candidates, drastic measures must be taken.
One controversial solution that has achieved some measure of success is compulsory organ donation, also know as the presumed consent. This policy simply makes organ donation an “opt out” decision, instead of an “opt in”. That basically means that organ donation is obligatory unless there is a request not to. This policy has already been introduced in over 20 European countries and has achieved some success, one example being Spain, where they have more than double of viable organ donors per million people than Canada (31 per million compared to 13 per million). However, this policy is extremely controversial and is met with much resistance, especially in North America where people tend to value their autonomy. This is an ethical dilemma, because from a practical standpoint it makes little sense not establish this policy,and yet ethical arguments such as respect for the dead and body ownership can be made against it. However ethical arguments could be made, especially in a teleological point of view, in favor of compulsory organ donation.
From a teleological view, especially using the Utilitarian ethics code it is very difficult to argue against establishing this policy. Compulsory organ donation fits perfectly with the Greatest Happiness principle as for every dead person five more could live, by every family that might be angry or feel uncomfortable with the perceived harvesting of organs, five will be happy. Sure there are cases, such as certain religious groups, that might warrant an exception, but in a teleological point of view this exception can be allowed. Granted , the fact that it is compulsory organ donation makes it not a donation anymore, and the fact that the government would basically own their organs after they die might make a few people uncomfortable. However in this case the benefits clearly outweigh the any discomfort an individual might have. In addition the possibility to opt out of the policy makes any argument against it moot. Thus when dealing with organ donation perceived consent is the best policy.