A DUP MLA has spoken out strongly against a proposed law which would presume that everyone in Northern Ireland is happy for their organs to be donated to others when they die.
East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross said that he had “an ideological difficulty” with the private member’s bill announced by the UUP’s Jo-Anne Dobson on Tuesday.
The law, which Ms Dobson is formally consulting on, would replace the current opt-in system with a ‘soft’ opt-out whereby families of the deceased could stop their organs being used if they had not left instructions, something its supporters say could wipe out waiting lists for transplants.
But Mr Ross told the News Letter that in some countries where it had been introduced it was counterproductive as the public had “reacted angrily” to the idea that their bodies could be used without their express permission.
The MLA said that his position was shared by many churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, and added: “It’s not just me that is concerned about this; a number of people are.”
Another source said that some DUP ministers are among those opposed. Mr Ross, who is one of the DUP’s youngest MLAs, stressed that he was not opposed to organ donation and said that he believed the bill, even if it is not passed, would lead to healthy debate about organ donation which could increase donors.
He added: “Presumed consent can never be regarded as informed consent and I think that it is very dangerous to set a precedent that government are deciding what happens to somebody’s body; I think that’s a stretching of the state’s role.”