"But that would be putting the clock back," gasped the governor. "Have you no idea of progress, of development?"
"I have seen them both in an egg," said Caspian. "We call it 'Going Bad' in Narnia...."
C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Wales is going to presumed consent on organ donation. That means that the legal default position is that you have consented to be an organ donor.
Probably I have an unduly romantic view of the Welsh, fostered by my repeated reading (to the point almost of memorization) of Edith Pargeter's pro-Welsh historical novels set in the border country in the 1200's. But the thought that the distant relations of Llewellyn ap Griffith and the many others who fought and died for Wales have, apparently, some measure of political independence now and use it for this is something I find repugnant and depressing.
Yes, I understand it's a "soft" presumed consent system. This apparently means that they "consult" family members about organ donation. What they do if the family members say a resounding, "No!" remains to be seen. I hope I'm not just a cynic, but I think "consult" is a weasel word. It seems to me entirely plausible that the "soft" presumed consent will become "hard" presumed consent if family members refuse. I would be willing to go so far as to bet that if there is disagreement among family members, that will be enough to allow donation.
But even if we take the most charitable view and suppose that any immediate family member will have veto power over organ donation, what about the people who have no family, or whose family members are all far away and difficult to locate? It's hard to see any outcome there other than that the person will be seen as an organ donor. Indeed, if this change doesn't mean that, it isn't a change. Family members now, as far as I know, can consent to organ donation even if the patient has not filled out a donor card. For "presumed consent" to mean anything, there must be some group of people for whom consent can, in fact, be presumed.
What's almost as depressing as the outcome is the level of political discourse used in favor of the move:
A spokesperson said: "We believe we should be progressive on this issue and follow the example of those countries with excellent records on organ donation, where an opt-out system is a key element. Introducing a soft opt-out system will mean people are more likely to make decisions about donation during their lifetime and to have discussed their wishes with their family."
Oh, well, hey, if it's progressive, who could fault it? We've gotta be progressive!
Roy Thomas, chairman of the Kidney Wales Foundation, claims it will increase the number of organs available for donation by up to 30 percent.
"[It] will solve a lot of issues for people who are waiting for a transplant," he added.
"We are losing one person each week here in Wales and that's a huge amount of people who are dying and we need to give them hope.
"I believe the Welsh government has got this absolutely right and are progressive. Indeed I think the rest of the UK will follow."
Yep, that's all there is to it. If we believe the Welsh government is progressive, then that settles it.
And then there is the not-so-subtle coercion in one alleged selling point: "Introducing a soft opt-out system will mean people are more likely to make decisions about donation during their lifetime and to have discussed their wishes with their family." See that? What it amounts to is, "Speak now, or forever hold your peace. If you don't want to be a donor, you'd better get a move on and make that official." It's a deliberate attempt to force the issue.
If that's progress, I say the heck with it. In Narnia, we call it "going bad."