New York – Calling Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s presumed consent legislation “tantamount to entrapment,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) today launched an opposition campaign to prevent the bill from moving forward in Albany. If passed, New York State would be the first state which presumes people wish to donate their organs unless they specifically opt-out. Presently, prospective donors must give permission to donate their organs by checking a box on their driver’s licenses in the presence of two witnesses, or by filling out a donor card.
Joining Hikind in opposition is the Rabbinical Alliance of America, a rabbinic organization which boasts more than 800 members nationwide; The Catholic League, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization; The National Council of Young Israel, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue movement with 146 branches across North America; and leaders from Chesed Shel Emes, an organization which prepares members of the Jewish community for burial according to Orthodox tradition, irrespective of a family’s ability to pay for burial services or plots.
“This legislation is blatantly unfair,” said Hikind. “We intend to do everything in our power to prevent a real-life invasion of the body snatchers in New York State.”
Hikind added that while he supports all those who wish to donate voluntarily, the notion of presumed consent poses a great risk to those who simply forget to opt-out, and consequently, may be forced to donate their organs upon death. “This bill is tantamount to entrapment,” noted Hikind. “If this bill becomes law, we will end up fighting protracted legal battles to prevent illegal organ harvesting.”
National Council of Young Israel President Steven Z. Mostofsky, Esq. remarked, “While organ donation is commendable, it should be a person’s choice to do so. The US constitution has been cited many times to protect citizen’s rights to control their own bodies. Why should people not be able to control what happens to their body after they die? Organ donation should remain an option that people must affirmatively choose and not one that they have to affirmatively reject.”
“The predicate of these bills is that the government enjoys a lien on our bodies,” stated Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League. “That is obscene.”
Rabbi Gershon Tanenbaum, Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America commented, “The government cannot mandate organ donation. To do so belittles the religious and cultural sensitivities of so many. Instead, the government should raise awareness and increase education about the importance of organ donation.”
Currently, neither bill involving presumed consent (A09881; A09865) has a State Senate sponsor. According to Hikind, lobbying efforts are already underway to preclude this bill from ever being brought to the floor for a vote in the Assembly.