There are generally two options for determining rather a deceased individual's organs can be used from donation. The Opt-in policy says that the organs can not be used unless a person explicitly states that they want to be a donor, while an opt-out policy presumes a person's organs can be used unless they explicitly state they do not want to be a donor.

In the united states we currently use an opt-in policy. This bothers me since a third of all potential organs are allowed to go to waste that belonged to people who did not have strong feelings either way (ie who wouldn't opt in or opt out), and that's allot of lives lost to organ failure that could be saved; though I'm aware of the counter arguments and am not asking which policy is 'correct'

I'm wondering though rather any active attempt has been made to move to an opt-out policy? Has any politician ever campaigned on or made such a desire known as something they wanted to get done? Has any group made a real effort in doing so, and if one did what kind of response were they met with?

  • Where are your sources? As far as I know we don't waste organs. Organs from dead people are worthless. Also organs from sick/dying people are less likely to be useful. Feb 14 '19 at 21:24
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    @MatthewLiu I don't have any specific source to cite, but I am very confident that organs from dead people are not "worthless". For example, heart transplants are things that happen, and if the donor could not be dead before the transplant then every one would necessarily involve murder. Feb 15 '19 at 16:23
  • Yes, some localities did this
    – user4012
    Feb 15 '19 at 16:37

Attempts by state legislators

Yes, it has been proposed by various legislators at the state level.

According to Houston Public Media:

A bill (HB 1938) recently filed by State Representative Jason Villalba of Dallas would automatically make Texans organ donors — unless they opt out. The bill would apply to first-time driver's license applicants and renewals who are 18 and over. Unless they specifically opt out on the form, citizens would automatically be added to organ donor registry. If passed, the bill would be the first of its kind in the United States.

I assume the bill didn't pass, because an article on thehumanist.com in 2018 read:

Still, efforts at organ donation consent policy reform in the US have been fruitless. Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania legislators, for example, have pushed for presumed consent. Ted Kennedy Jr.’s attempt at introducing an organ donation “opt-out” policy in Connecticut was met with strong backlash just last year. The engrained American value of individual rights superseding that of a menacing government could be the source of this initial pushback, but one would like to believe it could be overcome if the American public was more aware of the current organ shortage gap.

In addition to the states named there, a page on the US Department of Health & Human Services' website also mentions the state of Maryland as having tried to pass such a presumed consent law:

Policies based on presumed consent are seen in many states' statutes bearing on the retrieval of corneas. Regarding organ and tissue donation, two presumed consent bills were submitted in early 1993 to the state legislatures in Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Maryland version having been introduced and rejected in a previous session.

Nationwide efforts by civilians

Online, I found a few petitions as well. Most petitions were aimed at other countries, but I found two aimed at US legislators as well.

This petition aimed at the US Congress received 153 voters. It called on legislators to:

Change the current organ donation system to a presumed consent or “opt-out” program instead of the current “opt-in” program in order to create a larger number of available organs and save lives while still allowing people who wish to not become donors to “opt-out” of donating simply by visiting a website or registering as a non-donor with their local DMV or hospital.

Another petition in 2013 received 1757 signatures on the White House's petition website. It called for legislators to:

Pass a Bill to Change the United States' Organ Donation System to be "Opt-Out" Rather Than "Opt-In"

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    Thank you for this answer! I had long ago given up on getting an answer, but this looks like an excellent answer providing just the information I had hoped for. I'm still sad that the topic hasn't made it into general discussion, I feel if people understood the options better, instead of making an knee jerk reaction, many would agree that letting multiple people die because we presume someone doesn't want to donate when they are actually indifferent to it, plus paying higher healthcare costs to take care of people with failing organs that could get replacements, is just a stupid idea.
    – dsollen
    Oct 28 '20 at 16:15

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