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January 11, 2013

Maryland's Quest for Your Body

Joe Charlebois

If certain Maryland legislators have their way, your body would be presumed to be property of the state. Maryland State Sen. Ron Young (D., Frederick) has put forth bill SB 40, which will presume that upon your death, your body becomes property of the state.


This legislation – if it makes its way out of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and receives a full floor vote it – should be voted down on unconstitutional grounds.


In many European states the government, in essence, owns the rights to the organs of the deceased and those who are brain dead. The two leading donor countries are Portugal and Spain. They are "opt out" nations. That is, a citizen must proactively choose not to be an organ donor. In any "opt in/opt out" scenario, the controlling party is the one that has the choice to "opt in."


The United States ranks third behind Spain and Portugal in the number of donors per million worldwide.* This is quite a feat for a country that doesn't require its citizens to opt out. The generosity of the American people is borne out in the statistics.


Nationally there may still be a great need for organ donation, but according to 2011 statistics, Donate Life Maryland reports that nearly half of all eligible Maryland residents have chosen to be organ donors. In fact there are 2.2 million Maryland residents who have offered their organs for transplant when the time arises.


Anecdotally, I don't know anyone that is not registered through the Motor Vehicle Administration as an organ donor. The need for legislation to coerce those who have a moral or uncomfortable feeling about organ donation into choosing to “opt out” is un-American.


Our land is the last bastion of liberty. In my lifetime, the liberty that has been representative of American freedom continues to be chipped away in the tiniest of increments producing, over time, a great change in our society.


If legislation such as Senator Young's "Opt Out" bill becomes law, it would forever change the dynamics between the citizen and the government. The law would presume that the state has the rights and ownership of our bodies when we die.


The government should never have "ownership" of our bodies. The government is simply a tool created by the governed to carry out the needs of the society that elected it. Nothing more, nothing less.


Proponents of opt out legislation will, of course, say that it is voluntary, because you can “opt out” of this choice; but, when the government gains power, it is highly unlikely that it will ever voluntarily return it to the citizen.


For this reason, this law should not be supported.


* - Source: TPM-DTI Foundation


I commend those who want to raise awareness of organ donation and those who have volunteered to be organ donors. There are several organizations that promote awareness and they have been successful doing so.


For further information on organ donation, go to


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