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Colorado too eager for organ donors

Colorado organ donor symbol

Colorado organ donor symbol

Think government is getting too intrusive? Then you’re going to love this — not.

Some Colorado legislators are proposing that residents be considered organ donors by default. Yep, they want to change the law so that unless we opt out, that little red heart will appear on our driver’s licenses.

To me, opting out is something you have to do to stop unwanted spam, junk mail, phone books, etc. Frankly, I don’t think anyone should have to opt out of something they never opted in to. And it’s definitely not something you should have to do in matters as serious as whether someone can remove organs from your dead body.

Not that I don’t support organ donation. It’s amazing that doctors can transplant organs and save lives, and we all know there are far more people on waiting lists than there are available organs. Years ago my attitude was, “Of course I’ll be a donor. Once I’m dead, it sure won’t matter to me, and it might help someone.” But over the years I’ve gotten a lot less cavalier about life and death. When my dad was dying, I asked the doctors about organ donation, and they said an 89-year-old had nothing worth harvesting. That planted the idea that at some point I’ll have nothing worth donating, so if I opt out of being a donor, I won’t be denying anyone anything.

Also, as I get older, I occasionally remember that ghoulish idea that maybe, just maybe, someone at some point might be a wee bit too eager to hasten my demise. Ridiculous idea, right? But once you’ve heard it suggested, you never completely forget it.

Lastly, I really don’t want to trust such decisions to bumbling bureaucrats. The last time I renewed my driver’s license, I specifically told the DMV clerk that I did not want to be a donor. But sure enough, when the new license arrived in the mail, it had the donor symbol on it. I crossed it out with a permanent marker (probably breaking the law) and removed my name from the state’s online donor list. But every time I look at that license, I’m reminded of how easily the state can screw things up.

Colorado legislators should err on the side of caution with this one, and leave such decisions to the individuals concerned. Those who want to be donors can opt in to the program if they want. And if they forget, no harm done.


  1. You may laugh, but I see where this is going.

    Never mind all the obvious arguments you raise.

    As a libertarian, I often discuss the question of rights – where they come from, how we get them and how they differ from privileges and entitlements. In a logical effort to frame the borders of agreement, we often begin by asking the question, “Who owns your own body?” Climbing aboard the nullification bandwagon, the state of Colorado intends to nullify the logic of our question by answering that question on your behalf in advance.

    Going directly to the point, who will benefit by increasing the supply of reclaimed body parts? Could it be a government health care system that will necessarily have to codify into law a basis for restricting the number of people eligible to receive them as well as other limited resources? Wherever individual rights are subordinated to collective rights, I still wonder, “Who owns your own body?”

    • We already have restrictions on who can get on a waiting list for an organ. But I don’t know if there’s an actual law or just guidelines that doctors observe.

      There will be a comment period and a town hall meeting to discuss the issue. Sure seems to me the state risks messing up a good thing, since it already has the nation’s highest rate of voluntary donor registration — 2 of every 3 licensed drivers are donors. I doubt coercion is the way to increase that rate.

      And oh yes, I own my body, and my family after me. Anyone who challenges that may force me to do something unladylike.

    • I did leave a comment on one of the local media reports, which I’m sure the legislators read or monitor, and I wrote to one of the bill’s backers who was named in the reports.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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