April 23, 2024

Swiss bioethicist backs organ donor euthanasia

The idea of using patients as organ donors if they request assisted suicide or euthanasia seems to be catching on. This is reasonably common in Belgium and in the Netherlands an official protocol is being drawn up to regulate such cases.

Now, in an interview with the Swiss news service, bioethicist David Shaw, of the University of Basel, in Switzerland, has backed the idea. He says that it is shame for life-preserving organs to be wasted.

I’m not saying that we should be killing people to take their organs. But Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where several hundred people use assisted suicide every year. This is a situation where you have people who want to die, you know when they’re going to die, and many of them are probably registered organ donors. So it’s also more respectful to the people to let them do this final kind of parting gift to humanity.

The trouble when you have an idea like this is that some people might get a hold of it and say, ‘These crazy ethicists. They want to kill everyone and take their organs out.’ Not the case at all. I’m just saying, people are dying because we don’t have enough organs.

Will this put pressure on sick patients to die to donate because they believe that it is the only way that their lives can have meaning? No, says Dr Shaw. “The burden argument is used a lot in assisted suicide debates, and it’s not really very convincing. The bioethics literature is quite clear on that.”

Dr Shaw, a Scot, also serves on the UK Donations Ethics Committee, so his views may have some influence in shaping legislation if the UK legalises assisted suicide.

HT to Wesley J. Smith.