Ethical Problems in New
Organ Procurement Strategies
R. M. Veatch and J. B. Pitt
The acute shortage of organs for transplantation has led to considerable interest in laws that are designed to increase the number of organs procured. These laws are often referred to as "presumed consent" laws. Such laws are alleged in many popular and scholarly articles to exist in several European countries and Singapore, among other places. The reasoning behind recent arguments in favor of adopting a so-called presumed consent law in the United States is that if we can presume the consent of the deceased to organ procurement there will be a substantial increase in the yield of organs.
CONSENT AND SALVAGING
The problem with this approach, however, is that, with a few exceptions, the existing laws never actually claim to presume consent, nor can they rightly be said to do so. They simply authorize the state's taking of the organs without explicit permission. It therefore seems wrong to call them presumed consent laws. They are, in effect, what used to be called routine salvaging laws. 1 We believe the time has come to be more careful in distinguishing between policies of presumed consent and those of routine salvaging. While the net outcome may be the same under either kind of policy, the underlying assumptions about the relation of the individual to society are radically different.
It is our hypothesis that those who support a societal right to procure____________________