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Organ Donor By Choice or By Ignorance?

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Colorado State Capitol

(credit: colorado.gov)

Written by Dominic DezzuttiThe Colorado Legislature is considering a bill that would change the way you and I decide to become organ donors.

The current system is simple. When citizens get a Driver’s License or an ID card, they can tell the State to add a little heart logo that signifies that the card holder has willingly signed up be an organ donor if they are ever killed in an accident.

The new proposal would automatically sign up anyone with a Driver’s License or an ID card to be an organ donor, but they would offer a way for anyone who wishes not to be a donor to opt out of the program.

From the standpoint of the need for organ donation for countless members of our society, this seems like a great idea. Anything that would help make more organs available that could save lives has to be a worthy idea, right?

Maybe this idea simply helps all of those folks that haven’t signed up yet. Maybe they all simply forgot, because if they were thinking about their fellow man, they would have remembered to sign up. This new program will help all of those forgetful people by automatically making sure they are helping they are part of the solution.

Sarcasm aside, when strictly examined through the lens of the need for organs, the program can look like it is worth it. But when examined from the angle of the freedom and rights of the individual, the idea’s merit becomes far murkier.

Taking any action on an individual’s behalf, even something as honorable and important as organ donation, is taking away their rights. Freedom is based on the idea of being free to do something, not the freedom to get out of doing something.

It may seem like an odd philosophical debate, but it’s not really that complicated.

Regardless of the reason, making someone to opt out of a program is forcing someone to take an action.

That’s not freedom.

But, like any good argument about freedom, this is open to debate. Is giving up a certain freedom worth it for the benefit to society?

We answer that question everyday in airport security lines. And that question is at the heart of the many lawsuits that several states have filed against the federal government, including Colorado, regarding the Health Care Reform law, but that’s another blog.

But is this new program worth it to compromise our freedoms? Is growing organ donor rolls a lofty enough ends to justify these means?

It’s up to our elected state representatives to answer that particular question. But the situation is a good reminder that we must take our freedoms very seriously. Our freedoms are rarely taken away under duress. We usually opt out of them fairly quietly.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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