Monday, January 14, 2008

New Labour Become Body Snatchers


By Blad Tolstoy

People have heard of Burke and Hare the infamous body snatchers and a couple of days ago Gordon Brown informed us that his government was considering nationalising our bodies. This referred of course to his intention to meet the organ donor crisis by proposing a policy of presumed consent and that people would have to opt out if they didn't want their bodies to be used.

Many people have been outraged by this proposal and for a variety of different reasons. However, others infavour, have stated that in opting out one is hitting the wrong people, namely, those in desperate need of organ transplants. This latter point of view has some substance. However, the same point of view can and will be used quite shamelessly for the purposes of emotional blackmail.

With regard to smokers (and this blog is primarily for them and their tolerant friends) they pay not only their National Insurance contributions but billions in extra tax that the government gains not just from the direct sales of over the counter cigarettes but also from the corporation tax levied on the profits of the tobacco companies. (The latter fact pertaining to corporation tax is frequently ignored even by pro-choice activists.) It is interesting then, that there are those who say that should smokers refuse to make their organs available they would be heartless, BUT, the same people are not also out making the point that the government's expressed intent to disallow smokers NHS treatment, despite the fact they have paid for it many times over, is not only heartless but fraudulent and criminal. If one had a contract with a private health provider who then tried to deny treatment, that provider would find itself facing both civil and criminal actions: the civil being breach of contract and the criminal being fraud and theft.In addition, it may edify people to know that there have already been cases in the US of smokers' lungs being given to needy recipients. So when it comes to organs, then anyone may be considered as a donor including the "filthy' smokers.

Weighing all this up and considering the position in the round, I shall not be prepared to allow the government to help itself to my organs and will opt out of any such government scheme. With further regard to this point the only organs of mine they may have are my old mouth organs (harmonicas).

Penultimately, there has been plenty of furore in the recent past about surgeons in children's hospitals just helping themselves to the organs of other deceased children. The furore should have happened as there is something singly and intuitively disturbing about others helping themselves to someone's body parts without their express permission. Aside from the fact that organ donation should be a matter of freedom of choice, death is a painful time for most relatives and loved ones and the fact that this government now intends to regard such a time as an opportunity for a spare parts organfest is revolting. In addition, a presumed consent policy will be wide open to abuse. I can tell you a thing or two about what goes on in teaching hospitals from experience, but to tempt certain clinicians with the possibility of allowing or facilitating the death of A so that B, who may be considered a more cost effective option, may live, will be too much of a temptation for some to overcome.

Lastly, there can only be one way that organs may be obtained and that is with the clear consent of the donor or, at the very least and in very special cases, the donor's nearest and dearest. If there is a current lack of donors, then as someone has already observed, the government should stop wasting so much money on quangos and certain health fascist organisations and spend that money, instead, on educating people on the merits of organ donation.