Presumed consent, autonomy, and organ donation

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (1):37 – 59 (2004)
Abstract
I argue that a policy of presumed consent for cadaveric organ procurement, which assumes that people do want to donate their organs for transplantation after their death, would be a moral improvement over the current American system, which assumes that people do not want to donate their organs. I address what I take to be the most important objection to presumed consent. The objection is that if we implement presumed consent we will end up removing organs from the bodies of people who did not want their organs removed, and that this situation is morally unacceptable because it violates the principle of respect for autonomy that underlies our concept of informed consent. I argue that while removing organs from the bodies of people who did not want them removed is unfortunate, it is morally no worse that not removing organs from the bodies of people who did want them removed, and that a policy of presumed consent will produce fewer of these unfortunate results than the current system.
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S. J. Kerstein (2009). Autonomy, Moral Constraints, and Markets in Kidneys. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (6):573-585.

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