The problem of organ donation
The recent debate in the UK about organ donation was surprisingly heated. People complained about a “nanny state” infringing on their post-mortem rights; some threatened to tear up their donor cards if the proposed change to an “opt-out” system went ahead. “Opt-out” means presumed consent, or a legal system in which people no longer have to actively join the organ donor register in order to become donors. Everyone is automatically treated as a potential donor, unless they actively opt out. Supporters of presumed consent propose this system as a means of increasing the number of organs available for transplantation. Opponents say it violates their right to their body after their death. The British government has recently appointed a taskforce to examine the proposed change to a presumed consent system, triggering a public debate about the pros and cons of presumed versus informed consent.
Since we Humanists don’t expect an afterlife, so aren’t bothered about post-mortem dismemberment – unlike 19th century Christians who feared the Resurrectionists – maybe more of us might consider body donation? Medical schools need cadavers. Squeamish people won’t donate their bodies but doctors have to learn anatomy. If they’ll have it (it’s not in good shape), my body’s been bequeathed to the nearest University Anatomy Department. Saves my family having to arrange a funeral too.