The Option to Opt-In: Organ Donation in America
Organ donation is not altruistic. The decision to donate an organ should not be viewed as ethically consequential. Instead, organ donation should be considered ethically inconsequential. The argument for trivializing organ donation lies not in the importance of the act of donating an organ, but in how a country’s organ donation program is structured. There are two types of organ donation programs; one is to opt-out of organ donation and the other is to opt-in to organ donation.
Countries with the option to opt-out of organ donation register their citizens automatically on the organ donor list. Citizens have the option to opt-out of the list by requesting to be taken off the list. People retain their autonomy by exercising their option to opt-out or to remain on the organ donation list. Those that do opt-out may do so for religious or personal reasons. The choice to stay on the list carries moral value but isn’t ethically consequential because being on the organ donor list is the status quo for most. The choice to opt-out of becoming an organ donor would be the consequential decision because it deviates from the moral norm.
America is an Opt-In country. Citizens choose to become organ donors. Those who become organ donors are often viewed as extraordinary. What is extraordinary about helping another? The act of donating an organ should not be ethically consequential because helping another should be viewed as a part of being in a society. The choice to donate is not ethically meaningful, it is humane. As individuals, we must view the well-being of others as important. The Opt-Out program automatically registers citizens at birth to the organ donation list. The act of remaining on the list signals the understanding of being part of the greater good. As an American, I value my ability to retain my respective identity while exercising my autonomy in medical matters. Remaining on the organ donation list would allow me to choose whether or not I want to donate based on my personal or religious views. My autonomy would not be compromised. The advantage of America adopting an Opt-Out Program is that organ donation would be automatically benefiting those who are on the waitlist for organs.
Organ donation is insignificant if it is a societal norm. People shouldn’t be applauded for doing what is best for society. The Opt-In program is antiquated and heavily reliant on goodwill. Those who are on the waitlist for organs shouldn’t be burdened with the worry of whether or not someone will donate. Those on the waitlist should be thinking of what they will do with their lives when they receive a much-needed organ. Altruism has no place on the waitlist.