Illinois Dangerous ‘Presumed Consent’ Organ Donor Bill

Illinois State Senator Dale Risinger (R, Peoria) has offered a bill in Springfield that drives our society further along the path of making parts of the human body a commodity, undercutting the sacred status of human life.

SB 3613, the Presumed Donor bill, amends the Illinois Anatomical Gift Act to define all Illinois patients as “presumed donors” unless they specifically avail themselves of the opt out clause. In other words, unless you tell the government that in the case of your presumed brain death you don’t want your body parts cut out and donated to other patients, they will be cut out and given to others.

As the law stands now a potential donor has to opt in to the organ donor program in order to allow the government to authorize usage of organs in case of brain death. One must inform the state ahead of time that one will agree to donate his organs. This bill would reverse that process of consent. If SB 3613 passes all patients will be assumed to be fodder for transplants unless they’ve specifically told the state that they do not want their body parts to be parceled out to other people.

As the synopsis of the bill states: This bill, “Provides that, on and after July 1, 2012, each resident of Illinois who is of sound mind and who has attained the age of 18 years is presumed, by operation of law, to have given all of his or her body for any organ donation purposes.”

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Proponents of this bill say that it will help alleviate the desperate need for donor organs and will help hundreds of patients live that might otherwise die due to their disease and lack of donor organs.

It does sound like a great idea until one begins to look at it all with a bit more logical eye. Laws like a “presumed donor” law could easily cause doctors to care less for the injured when looking to harvest organs for patients waiting transplants. And since the criteria for a transplant includes the donor’s “brain death” one is struck with abuse that such a designation could lead to.

Medical science is replete with cases of patients that were called brain dead and given up as a lost cause but who woke up, healed, and became sentient, active people once again despite the doctor’s negative expectations. Unfortunately, medical science is not always right with its determination of when an injured patient is permanently bran dead.

That being the case, to assume that every patient that is determined to be brain dead is a candidate for organ harvesting could easily put the life of that patient in danger of being given less importance when weighed against people waiting on an organ donor list.

Injured patients have to trust that a doctor has their best interest in mind and must hope that a doctor’s zeal to harvest organs takes a back seat to the welfare of the potential donor. This law, however, would upset that delicate balance and place the need for organs at a higher level of importance than the life of the potential donor.

This all tends to make the human body more of a commodity than a sacred vessel. Doctors could easily begin to see severely injured patients as temporarily breathing organ banks instead of living humans that need their utmost skill to heal them.

If you stand against this bill and want to see Illinois organ donor law stay as an opt in law instead of one of “presumed consent” you have a chance to voice your disapproval of the law by supplying written testimony to Senator Risinger via email at [email protected]. Unfortunately I am only finding out about this now as a public hearing was held on Tuesday, March 2.

Please do email Senator Risinger that you oppose this bill.

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