Social policy charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) has today called for a major rethink on presumed consent as public support falls from 63%1 to 49%.2
In March a BBC Poll demonstrated 63% support for presumed consent but a Welsh Government poll published on Friday demonstrated that less than half the population now support presumed (or deemed as it is now called) consent.
On top of this, responses to the Welsh Government’s consultation on their draft Human Transplantation Bill demonstrate overwhelming opposition. Even if one discounts identical responses, every question about the Bill gave rise to more negative responses than positive. The nearest the Draft Bill came to getting a positive answer was in response to a question about arrangements for establishing residency where 73 thought the Bill OK, whereas 95 thought it unsatisfactory.
Speaking from Swansea, CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs Dr Daniel Boucher said, ‘The findings from the summary of responses are deeply worrying for the Welsh Government. The fall in support from 63% to 49% in just a few months is very striking, as is the extraordinarily negative response of consultees to the Draft Bill3. They really must pause now and at minimum significantly revise the proposals in their draft Bill.’
‘The truth is’, Boucher continued, ‘their Bill does not present a credible soft opt-out system providing surviving relatives with the right to object to organs being taken in those cases where the deceased died without explicitly stating whether or not they wanted their organs taken. Proper soft opt-out systems, such as that in Belgium, do make this provision.’
CARE has also expressed serious concerns about how the Welsh Government has presented its findings. Their press release ‘Excellent response to Organ Donation Bill consultation’ would give the impression that all is going very well but as we have seen that is clearly not the case.
When pushed on Friday the Welsh Government dismissed this reality to journalists saying that it is the result of a campaign run by the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) which resulted in multiple identical letters being submitted.
This, however, obscures a very important fact.
When the Welsh Government published its response to its first consultation on presumed consent in March this year it made much of the fact that a majority of the responses were in favour of presumed consent. However, 80% of those favourable responses came in the form of identical postcards that were part of a campaign. Had the Welsh Government only counted unique responses it would have seen that only 17% of submissions were in favour of presumed consent.4
Boucher concluded, ‘The truth is that the Welsh Government cannot have its cake and eat it. Either it is happy to use submissions from campaigns, in which case it must take seriously all identical submissions or it must reject all identical submissions.’