An MP’s greatest power is to legislate, to make laws on our behalf. That is why they are called legislators. One of the biggest abuses of that power is to make bad laws on little evidence to make themselves look good.
A hint that a bad law is heading towards the statute books is when it is named after a person. This emotional manipulation – ‘this law is FOR a specific person’ – is something I hate. There are no Sarah’s laws or Max’s laws; there are laws made by Parliament and enacted by the Queen. In fact, every Bill starts with this: Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
So when I hear that health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the Government planned to call the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, if passed, ‘Max’s Law’, it tells me all I need to know about the law. This Act would give the State custody over your body after death unless and until you go through some process to tell the State otherwise.
We are told this is to increase the number of organ donors and therefore will ‘save lives’. Implied is that to be against this Bill is to be against saving lives. It is nothing of the sort.
I am against the State expanding its power, this time over the most intimate part of oneself – one’s very body, after death. I am against MPs passing an unethical law without any evidence that it will secure the outcome it claims, namely increasing donors and ‘saving lives’. In Wales, organ donation has decreased after such a scheme was introduced.
If a person decides to donate his or her organs after death, this is a noble and virtuous decision. I fully support it and have carried a donor card in the past. The attempt by Parliament, however, to transform every person in England into a potential organ donor, without these people doing anything to indicate that this is what they want, is a gross abuse of legislative power.
This Act would mean that MPs have deemed every adult as consenting to the transportation and the storage of the body after death for the purpose of transplantation, the removal from the body of any relevant material for the purposes of transplantation (wombs included?) and the storage and transplantation of any relevant material for transplantation. So, quite a few things we have all been ‘deemed’ by MPs to have given our consent to.
On Friday, when this Bill was proceeding through the House shockingly unopposed, I asked MPs via tweet what evidence they had to ‘deem’ such consent. Not one replied. I doubt if it was discussed at all during the debate. Yet there they are, ‘deeming consent’ of us adults as if they have the magical powers of a fortune-telling gypsy.
This is the current state of legislators today – power-mad, who believe there are no limits to the State. Perhaps they will ‘deem consent’ of every adult who has a second home to gift that home to the State upon death unless they opt out. Or perhaps they will ‘deem consent’ to every £1,000 in a bank account being transferred to a charity upon death unless the adults opt out.
There are many other clinical concerns in relation to this Bill that my colleague Philippa Taylor has already explained.
But it is the State takeover of the body that concerns me the most, as well as the deafening silence from any Conservatives or indeed Liberal Democrats on this issue. If MPs can ‘deem consent’ to this, they can do it on any issue.
Please contribute to the Department of Health consultation here.
The Bill is here.