Sunday, January 13, 2008

Brown Wants to Nationalise Our Bodies

My body belongs to me, not the government, nor the NHS. I carry a donor card. I have made a free choice that in the event of any of my body parts being useful to someone else in the event of my death, someone else is welcome to them. I made an active choice. Gordon Brown is now proposing that there should be presumed consent and that people would have to opt out if they didn't want their organs used. If this is allowed to go through it will set a very dangerous precedent and it will be a further diminution of the freedom of the individual to make an informed choice.

Andrew Lansley made some good points this morning when he said: "“Only four years ago, Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson voted against assumed consent in organ donations on the basis that there was no public support, they said that there were better ways of increasing donations and that the State should not determine what happens to people’s bodies after death. Parliament concluded that to take organs without consent was wrong. It is neither right nor necessary for us to change that view".

John Reid, when he was Health Secretary said: "The answer is simple. It is because the decision about one's own body should be for the conscience of individual citizens. It is not for this Parliament, by free vote or otherwise, to impose on individuals a requisition of their bodies after death for the use of the state. That is why there is no free vote. We are giving the freedom of conscience to the people of this country, and we are not prepared to work on the assumption that Parliament should dictate to them that their bodies belong to the state after death.(Hansard, 28 June 2004: Col 77)."

Amazing how a government can do a complete U Turn like this isn't it? If I were a cynic, I might wonder if the whole thing is a charade to take the heat off Peter Hain.

If you'd like to voiluntarily register to donate organs after your death you can do so HERE.


anthonynorth said...

We make our choices despite the State, not because of it.
Any politician who doesn't understand that doesn't understand freedom.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Iain. Something else that's also worth considering is that having a system like we have at the moment means it's very difficult to put someone on it who hasn't given consent. Their details need to be voluntarily submitted by the individual. This assumptive method means the list will include everyone, and you have to fill in a form to be taken off. I can almost guarantee that'll lead to huge cock-ups, with people appearing on the list who have made it clear they didn't want to be.

Anonymous said...

no doubt about it , its a smokescreen.

Anonymous said...

a pathetic, reannounced smokescreen. watch wendy alexander squirming on the politics show.

nulabour are a busted flush and we will be deluged with muppet ideas like this for two years

simonh said...

A better system would involve financial inducement/compensation. If I sign up for a donor card and my organs are used after my deathy, my estate/family/heirs should get money - say ten grand or so for an organ. This would encourage a lot of people who simply haven't got round to it to sign up for donor cards; it would still be cheaper than keeping individuals on eg dialysis for years.

I also think that people should be free to sell a kidney while alive, subject to various forms of legal protection to avoid exploitation. If you can give one away to a family member, why should you be prevented from selling one to a stranger? Again, the NHS/medical insurers should be allowed to create and manage this market.

Geezer said...

Typical Liebour attempt at a diversionary news story, and as usual, the MSM happily oblige the Labour spin machine, by headlining this. The BBC have also been headlining Labour smears against Osbourne as well. Always rely on the BBC to Labour's dirty work for them.
Haine is still getting a kicking though, in many news outlets.

Anonymous said...

Outrageous. Thanks for pointing it out. The implications are appalling. Next-of-kin consent, normally sought, will be irrelevant. Some religions (eg, Islam) limit donations to those which are life-saving rather than life-enhancing. Adherents will be advised to block consent pre-emptively. An area of life where the state, very clearly, does not belong.

strapworld said...

There is a real need for donations of body parts in this country. Too many people are dying waiting for donors.

I believe that this discussion is right to have been raised. People should know that unless they say NO beforehand, parts may be taken from their body for patients who, without them, will die.

Iain has performed a public service by giving the web site to register. Many, like myself, are already registered and I have no objection whatsoever for anything to be taken from my body once my spirit has done with it!

Indeed we should all donate our bodies for medical science. That way more illnesses will be defeated.

How we deal with death and dying needs a rethink.

Burial is a waste of valuable ground. Graveyards could be used for housing.

Each town should have a book of rememberance in which names of the departed can be entered and details of their lives and achievement listed. That would provide a far greater record for the future for most of us.

The debate is right to be aired. On this I support Calamity Brown

Old BE said...

Even John Reid understands the issues, can someone explain them in words of one syllable to Gordon Brown?

Anonymous said...

No Dale, your body does indeed belong to you, but when you die you are no longer an individual (you have no conciousness) but a piece of useful organs which would be a tragedy not to use and could save many lives.

Stop being a reactive Tory, and see the logic of the idea.

Unsworth said...

This is a sideshow. Brown would have to get this through Parliament first, and he's going to have to deal with all sorts of other stuff in the interim - not least the nationalisation of Northern Crock.

No, the real and pressing issue is the corruption of such 'leaders' as Peter Hain. And the systematic abuse of legislation introduced by a NuLab Government - to eliminate corruption!

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, by the way, the name's Iain.

the logic of your argument is to abolish wills and give everything to the government.

You don't actually seem to have read my post. I have made a decision to give whatever parts of my body are useful. That was my choice. Others must make theirs.

Anonymous said...

My first reaction was similar to yours.This is typical of this control freak Brown. He is not content to tax us to the hilt throughout our working lives and retirement and then through inheritance tax, he now wants pieces of our bodies. A totally despicable man!

Anonymous said...

Nonsense, Anon 1.08.

Wills, for example, are legally binding documents, even though they are essentially a contract with someone who is no longer alive. Even in death we have rights and do not suddenly belong to the government.

Anonymous said...

Burke and Hare......Brown and Johnson.

Anonymous said...

And when this 'compulsory' register is active, how long before they wish to enforce kidney donation from live donors? After all, one is usually enough.

Currently donating blood is voluntary but once the State 'owns' your body this won't remain for long.

There is nothing that this lot won't stop at. They are worthy of nothing but detestation.

Anonymous said...

I, too, carry a donor card but am wholly opposed to this shameless extension of the government's authority over my person.

If this should go through then I will have my name removed from the list. I will then have to voluntarily resubmit myself at a later date.

Only then will I have re-established control over my own carcass. A disgraceful idea!

Old BE said...

It's with announcements like this that we see Brown's true colours. He clearly is one of those people who thinks that there is no such thing as freedom of choice and that the state is better informed to make decisions on our behalf.

Anonymous said...

As I fully intend to live a very long and meaningful life I doubt if any of my worn out bodyparts will be suitable for transplantation.If, however, the need arises to be a living donor for my imediate family, I would not hesitate.

John Backhouse said...

Ahem. Only 6 weeks ago I received a kidney from my brother. Whilst in hospital, despite having suffered progressive kidney failure over many years and meeting many people, I was stunned at the scale of the misery I saw amongst people not lucky enough have a donor.
However, I personally detest the idea of the state assuming control over us at any stage of our life or death. It is wrong and sets a vile precedent. Obviously, socialists will love it because they desire a utopia where everybody is directed like a puppet, the wretches.
So, what do we do then? Well, I see it as follows:
1) If you have a family member who needs a kidney - give them one! Recipients from living donors do better than any other category of kidney patient. Also, you save the NHS a FORTUNE in dialysis costs (and this is not all - kidney failure can't just be solved by plugging in three times a week - the plethora of additional conditions it attracts would boggle your mind). A transplant costs aout £25K in year one and about £5K per year thereafter. Dialysis: from £100K to £250K depending on the state of the patient. Lots of money there to reuse.
2) Hurrah for the guy who said let people sell organs. Believe it or not, in order to be eligible for my transplant, my brother and I had to undergo rigorous examination to satisfy the NHS I was not paying him. As it happens, I am not and he wouldn't accept it. (But do they really think if he needs money from now on and I have some that I won't bung it his way? Of COURSE I will!)
As for an open market - get in there! You can already make an altruistic donation where your kidney is removed and put into the person whom it most closely matches so why not let the NHS stick some cash in your pocket. They do save at least £95K per year after all.
3) If you won't donate after death (i.e. you don't carry a card) then you would lose all eligibility to receive any organs from dead people. Sod you, you selfish swine - find out about dialysis and heart failure and see how you like it. I would not at this stage, of course, stop you from buying an organ or receiving one from a family member. That is up to you and them.
Simply twittering about how bad Brown is (and that ain't news) is mere opposition and I've had enough of that whilst the lefties ruin everything. So please, Iain and others, as fine a set of of fellows as you are, let's have some suggestions about how we can beat the Labour Party at this too. Come on! I've put my ha'p'orth in so what about you? Stop moaning and PROPOSE!

Little Black Sambo said...

Strapworld: for some one who says he wants a "debate" you are very ready to lay down the law for everybody.

Anonymous said...

This is such an obvious attempt to get off the great orange one subject.

I'm signed up too and couldn't give a fig what a medical student does with me once I'm dead.

I do however take great exception to GB attempting to decide what's good for my corpse - that man just doesn't get individual choice, does he?!

Sir Dando Tweakshafte said...

I should like to donate Peter Hain to medical research. He's so busy he won't notice any missing bits.

Anyone have a spare think-tank they're not using? I'll only need to borrow it for a few months...

Anonymous said...

It was all over the news yesterday, and what is more, they've been building up to this for around six months now.

So now, while your relatives are grieving, just down the corridor the corpse of their loved one is being plundered. Why? Do you think Gordon Brown gives a crap about saving lives? Do you? Think about it? When has he demonstrated the faintest interest in his fellow man. There is a further agenda being forwarded by this gruesome proposal and it is more control. "You belongs to us, the state. We may do with your corpse as we please. By the way, don't smoke or drink because we want it to be serviceable when we butcher you."

Throughout human history, the dead have been treated with respect. Not in socialist Britain. God, I hate these people.

BTW, do you really think these authoritarians will honour the opt-out card? The commies? Honour anything?

Anonymous said...

Whilst the Comrades – as ever – try and use emotional blackmail to get an argument across – the fact that our bodies still belong to us is treated as an inconvenient democratic irrelevance.

Indeed this continues another step in organised State bullying [I refuse to refer to the ‘Nanny State’ as the Comrades are now running a neo-Totalitarian state and ‘Nanny State’ suggest some level of concern] of the body. I suggest the real reason behind these so-called ‘health checks’ on the third-world NHS is to create another perfect opportunity to bully taxpayers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Comrades don’t create even more punishment fines – such as a tax for being too fat [watch out John Prescott, and Charles Clarke]!

By-the-way, this ‘presumed consent’ also relates to Trade Union donations [the Comrades’ political paymasters] – if you belong to a trade union you have to say you don’t want to donate money to it!!! Using the Comrades’ logic – I bet they would love to introduce an electoral law that says you are deemed to have voted for them – unless you make the effort to go to a polling booth to vote against them!

Anonymous said...

It is indeed tragic when people die from want of an organ for which there is a shortage - and I think it is encumbent on all reasonable people to have at least considered organ donation on their death and talked to family and close friends about their wishes also.

It is, however, a step too far to introduce an "opt-out" scheme for this; since it is not difficult to see what will happen, when these powers are vested in the state.

Those people who are in the care of the state at the time of their deaths will no doubt be first in the queue to be "donated", particularly those who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves, such as the mentally ill. It's also not difficult to see scenarios where over-zealous coordinators are haranguing grieving relatives " can you refuse a kidney for this dying child..?"

What we should be massively expanding is research into regenerative technologies via stem cells, particularly since it has been recently shown, in peer-reviewed science, that they can be created from skin cells - thus removing the problematic ethical elements around the use of cells from aborted foetuses.

Anonymous said...

Surely this policy could be challenged under human rights legislation? Also, surely many religious groups would object to this, which is almost modern day grave robbing - especially for poor families who may never hear of this and end up have parts of a loved one taken.

Anonymous said...

I believe you will find (no doubt a lawyer will point out my errors) that a dead body belongs to the executors. They may, or may not, choose to abide by the expressed wish of the deceased as to organ donation, disposal of corpse etc.

Presumably, if someone without known relatives or who is intestate dies, then the body does indeed belong to the State (?Local Authority).

In my family we have all discussed issues of organ donation, posthumous research, methods of burial and when not to resuscitate so we know each other's preferences.

Colm Linehan said...


The proposal to change the default does not deny anybody the choice to donate or not to donate - it merely changes the assumption of whether or not they want to. I think it's important to try to address the issue of the lack of donated organs in this country, and I think this is a quite reasonable way of doing it.

I do, however, agree with you and the other comments that this is basically a smokescreen, and is being reannounced for that purpose.


hatfield girl said...

Bodysnatcher Brown follows in his cultural tradition; there used to be official Watchers in Scottish cemeteries to prevent the taking of corpses by Brown's predecessors.

Anonymous said...

whats the betting you will need a 'voluntary' ID card to opt out in the future?

Anonymous said...

Iain - I understand your concerns about the freedom of the individual. But the fact is most people cannot be bothered/are not concerned about their organs once they have died. A lot of organs are not donated because of apathy. Brown (who I am no supporter of) has said that you must specifically register if you do not want your organs donated. Your body still belongs to you, all you have to do is register your preference. I do not see the harm in this.

I write this as somebody who had to have an emergency liver transplant whilst on holiday in Barcelona. A liver was found for me within hours. (And I had the most amazing treatment within a Spanish state hospital, I might add) If I had been taken ill in the UK, then I doubt I would be alive today.

There is a chronic shortage of organs in this country and hundereds die every year as a result. Others have not been as lucky as me. If presumed consent means the saving of lives, then I, for one, would welcome it.

Anonymous said...

To be entirely honest, I'm not sure I see the issue. Individuals should, I agree, have complete control over their bodies - while they are still conscious individuals.

Is a corpse a conscious individual? I think not. Viewed in completely unsentimental terms, it's a slab of meat. Why shouldn't that slab of meat be put to some use? If we're to accept that human life is valuable, it strike me that, if a part of a slab of meat can be used to stop someone else from becoming one, it's the right thing to do. Regardless of whether they were too apathetic or selfish to consent to it while alive.

John Backhouse said...

Hi gf,
A corpse is not a conscious individual? Ah, would it were so simple! A century or so ago many people were buried alive because people at the time were SURE death had occurred. Bodies have to be kept on life support for organs to be removed so, I'm afraid, we are NOT dealing with a corpse. We are dealing with something alive which is (we sincerely hope) brain dead.
Make it easier - let people donate for cash!
Oh, and in case you think I'm an example of "I'm all right Jack!" the likelihood is that at 42 I will need another transplant before my 70 years are up. But I still reject the idea of compulsion, before or after death.

David Boothroyd said...

It is a well-established principle of law that there is no property in a corpse. (Source: Liberty).

Anonymous said...

"A corpse is not a conscious individual? Ah, would it were so simple! A century or so ago many people were buried alive because people at the time were SURE death had occurred. Bodies have to be kept on life support for organs to be removed so, I'm afraid, we are NOT dealing with a corpse. We are dealing with something alive which is (we sincerely hope) brain dead."

Ah, my mistake. On the other hand, I would question whether presumed brain-death counts as consciousness or not, although I couldn't claim to know any of the science. But yes, in that case, compulsion would seem more questionable.

Rich Tee said...

You would have to register your objection. What does this mean? You carry a card around with you? That's not so bad.

Or does it mean that you have to register your details on a computer database which would have to be easily accessible to NHS staff in the hours after your death.

We know what this government is like with our personal data don't we...

Anonymous said...

I just don't trust doctors to try as hard to save someone's life if they are carrying a donorcard. It's too easy to see value judgements being made - "shall we resusitate this middle-aged bird or have her organs for a dying child?" That's the reason I've never carried a donorcard - I'm 100% happy for my organs to be used if there really is no hope for me, it's the point at which that decision is made that concerns me. I think this needs to be explored more honestly before we are assumed to have given consent.

Anonymous said...

What's the betting that, if this proposal ever comes to pass "important" people such as, er, MPs would have a special exemption? It would only be the little insignificant people who would have their bodies automatically plundered by the State for spare parts. More exalted corpses would still be allowed some dignity in death.

Anonymous said...


Imagine the wake as the government comes to take the eyes from the dead man?

You'll like this:

Anonymous said...

Hectoring, sniffy, superior 1:08 - Desecration of human corpses is universally taboo. That's one thing we're all agreed on worldwide - across countries, across races, across tribes. Respect for the dead is in the universal human conscience.

If someone knowingly, while of sound mind, gives their consent, their body is theirs to dispose of and they have that right. The state does not have that right.

The pushers of this latest invasion of our rights know they are wrong, because they use sly language. Organs are to be "harvested". What an obscene use of the word! Harvests are from the earth of things grown by humans to be eaten.

Another communist subversion of the meaning of an old and rather nice word.

Incidentally, the Dalai Lama has said in another context that it takes 16 hours for the spirit to understand that they have died and to leave the body. That is why, to my surprise, he eats meat, but only of animals that have been dead for more than 16 hours.

Sincere wishes for good health to the two transplantees who have posted here.

Anonymous said...

Iain, it's not, I think, actually true that, in the UK at least (possibly different in the US and elsewhere), you or your next of kin own your body once you have died. I believe that it is the Coroner who takes charge and, if satisfied that there are no suspicious or other investigable circumstances surrounding the death, releases the body for burial or cremation. Could any lawyer reading this thread give a defibnitive answer?

That being said, I profoundly agree that the principe of opt-out rather than opt-in is entirely wrong, and that this proposal will prove to be a real loser, especially to doctors and nurses who will lose the trust of the public. It's certainly not the way to promote organ donation in this country.

Unknown said...

Maybe a having child with cystic fibrosis changes the mind? Lung transplant is the only available treatment when it has advanced.

Man in a Shed said...

There is a strong potential conflict of interest in the Prime Minster's position on this issue in relation to his son, which means he should not make a decision on this matter. (And surely should have had the sense to realise this ?)

Further - Think about this what happens if a child is killed ? How many parents have really thought through organ donation before the death of their children ?

Anonymous said...

Not content with his dour Scottish image, Brown now seems content to turn himself into a latter-day Burke and Hare.

Anonymous said...

Graham - I couldn't care less about Brown's kid and do not want to see laws based on it. Brown's domestic situation is of no consequence to the governance of Britain.

Anonymous said...

I have little truck with the State directing my life BUT in this instance, I think the imperative to save life is greater. If people have an overriding religious objection, that is fair enough, but if people are dying unneccessarily just because lardy-arsed folks can't be bothered to fill out a form, then they have lost the right to object.

If you do object, can it really be so onerous to tick a box when completing (say) the form to conform your details on the electoral register/passport application/driving licence - something minor that most people do every year.

Martin Curtis said...

I have a somewhat different view.

cassandra said...

Think about it this way, you are in a coma in an NHS hospital without any available representation to stick up for you.
Bear in mind that its very expensive to keep a coma patient alive when there is a small chance of recovery.
Would you trust the NHS to go the 'extra mile' in keeping you alive OR would they 'pull the plug' and loot your body parts to cut the waiting lists and keep to their treatment targets?
Where is the line drawn? who will make the final judgement on your life?
With this system it puts all the power in the hands of the state and it gives more power to those who will have a vested interest in looting your body!
It should be for individuals to make the choice to opt IN not OUT!
There have been many cases of coma patients writhing in agony as their bodies are cut open and their bodies are looted of their organs! What if that person on that slab WAS YOU! Even though you are in a coma you can still feel pain and you know what is happening to you! Now isnt that a horrid way to die?
from the states point of view it would be far cheaper to kill you off and loot your body parts than nurse you through the coma!


This law is pure evil and the state that pursues this course is evil.

Anonymous said...

Frankenstein would have loved this he didn't give bodies any choice either,strangely though his situation is reversed its his monster who is in charge.

Ade Brown said...

Think your mind and body are your own... property? Shoulda checked the EULA!

Twig said...

I guess they'll be recycling a few more contraversial issues over the coming weeks to take the heat off of Donorgate. Shall we lower the voting age to 16? Look into my eyes not around my eyes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiment behind this proposal, and I also agree that the proposal is faintly sinister. However, it isn't simply a matter of organ donation. The reason that there are so few donors is that civil society is fundamentally broken. People no longer think of donating organs, giving blood, volunteering etc. That needs to be fixed, and it is probably the case that other nations with higher donation rates have a healthier civic society.

There may be religious and other ethical barriers to such a proposal (Muslims, for example, are required to be buried within 24 hours). I'm neutral on whether the teachings of certain faiths may prevent this, as these faiths have evolved over many thousands of years, and I don't want to take part in any Mail-type steretyping. However, there is a real question over how this will be implemented?

This will be vintage Broon:

1. Presumed consent for all.
2. That is, presumed consent for English White citizens (to avoid any perceived cultural insult to other faiths or races, also see 3 below).
3. Organs of Scots and Welsh subject to their devolved administrations).
4. Members of Parliament to be exempt.
5. Further exemptions can be obtained on the basis of a means-tested financial payment (known as the "guts tax").
6. Body parts can also be used for other non-medical purposes such as dissection, scientific experiments, public exhibition, animal feed etc with the proceeds going to HM Treasury.

Anonymous said...

Jess The Dog - Gruesome but with the ring of truth given the sinister atmosphere in which this government moves.

How did the English allow themselves to be stripped of their centuries of freedom in 11 short years? They don't even have free speech any more. Nor secure borders. Our glorious history has been dumped, as has our enviable education system. It is an astounding achievement of the grotesque, jackbooted New Labour approach.

Anonymous said...

This is another disgrace.Device to take the heat off Hain probably, but typical of the man.
Burke and Hare were the last Edinburgh body snatchers I know of. With this proposal Gordon is taking on the gloomy, dismal bodysnatching role. Not out of character however as he is quite used to snatching whatever he can in tax and sleazy advantage through pathetic media spin

Anonymous said...

Iain, may I, with respect, note that The Spectator Coffee House is having a lively discussion under the blog written Matthew D'Ancona?

Anonymous said...

A coroner would only be involved where a death occurred in suspicious circumstances, say an obvious suicide or if someone had not been under recent medical care.

I have read that the shortage of donors is due in part to the happy and significant drop in fatal traffic accidents because of the use of seat belts; and also in part due to the growing longevity of the population, who are thus more likely to die of cancer rendering many organs unusable.

What is to stop individuals falsely claiming religious reasons for not being organ donors? And could someone enlighten me as to whether the religious refusers also reject transplants when they need them?

I think we all need to be less sentimental about death and more realistic about what modern medicine can do, and start talking about it with those who will be responsible for us.

Anonymous said...

Dante's inferno anybody?

Anonymous said...

Where can I register to have my organs separated and chucked at politicians?