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CARDIFF, Wales, April 2, 2013 ( – Ten out of 12 Members of the Welsh Assembly health committee voted last week to accept a proposal for “deemed consent” for organ donation that would automatically make any resident a donor, reports the Daily Post.

Under the legislation, anyone over the age of 18 would be regarded as having given consent by default unless he is on record as opting out in advance. The bill in its current form would allow a patient’s family only to present their case against organ donation. The decision would be left to the attending physician who would be under no legal obligation to take their preference into account and may proceed with the removal of organs. 

The Welsh government, which is pushing the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill, has said that families are often a big obstacle to obtaining organs. “Family refusal is a major factor that affects the numbers of organ donations and the main reason for refusal is lack of knowledge of their loved one’s wishes,” says the government on their website.

Health minister Mark Drakeford admitted that there are “significant concerns” over the scheme among Assembly Members, but insisted that the bill would go forward. Drakeford told the BBC, “We have to be sure, for clinicians as much as anything else, that they know where the law is firm under their feet in the new world we are moving into.

“I am determined and committed to putting deemed consent on to the statute book here in Wales because I think it will it will change the culture around organ donation, and will help, as one of a series of measures, to increase the level of organ donation.” 

Vaughan Gething, temporary chair of the health committee, said, “The committee has significant concerns over how the issues of consent have been set out and explained.

“Without clarity and consistency there is a real risk that there will not be public confidence in a deemed consent system. Clarity is equally important for the medical staff who will, be handling these difficult situations.”

Fr. John Fleming, the local spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has heavily criticised the project, saying that “deemed” or presumed consent is a contradiction in terms. “The whole point of ‘deemed consent,’” Fr. Fleming said, “is that the person has not consented, has not said one way or the other what their views are, but the State will take the organs anyway!”