Nova Scotia will soon become the first jurisdiction to pass the legislation of presumed consent for organ donation in North America. The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will soon go to final reading before becoming a law.
Once the bill has passed, it will take some time to go into effect after allowing time for planning, education and public awareness.
It has received mixed reviews from different groups and associations, but Dr. Stephen Beed the medical director for Legacy of Life Nova Scotia says that they have already anticipated concerns and will respect those groups that opposed.
Some have thought how this would work in practice, saying that the state is controlling what people should do with their bodies. This decision has been seen as “a very bad fit with cultural diversity,” according to Kerry Bowman a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, who is also surprised at the quiet reactions of the issue.
According to CTV News, Dr. Beed has also put into action an opt-out decision. “We have also recognized that an opt-out registry, some process that would be accessible, that would be culturally sensitive, that would be inclusive and efficient is part of what we have to design as well.”
Loved ones will still receive a consultation as what to do with the organs, however special cases such as those 19 years of age and under will be excused and will only be considered if a guardian decides to continue with the donation.
Despite the controversy, Nova Scotia’s goal is to increase organ donation in the province by 30 per cent, knowing that this can save many lives. It compare this to last year’s results of 21 people signing up to become organ donors and 110 people donating tissues.
Other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, are looking closely to replicate this bill at home. Saskatchewan’s Health Minister Jim Reiter says that there should be more steps to creating a registry and encouraging more people to become donors. He also doesn’t expect any legal challenges.
“I don’t anticipate a specific sort of civil liberties kind of challenge, I’d be surprised by that,” he tells CTV News.