Connecticut State Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. (D-Branford) — son of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — wants to give state government control over what happens to citizens’ organs after they die.
Kennedy recently introduced SB 750, which would automatically enroll Connecticut’s citizens in the organ donation program.
“It’s a bill that would seem to indicate that the state owns your body unless you say otherwise.”
“If people want to donate their organs after death, I have no problem with that at all, but it should not be coercive in any way,” state Sen. Len Suzio (R-Meriden) told the local Connecticut newspaper The Record-Journal.
As is the case in most states, citizens currently must choose to opt into the organ donor program. Were SB 750 to pass, however, the state would automatically assume a citizen’s consent and could harvest his organs after death, unless he went through the proactive process of opting out of the program beforehand.
“It’s a bill that would seem to indicate that the state owns your body unless you say otherwise,” said state Sen. Joe Markley (R-Southington).
Some political observers mocked the proposal coming from a member of the Kennedy clan.
“Would this apply to drowning victims on Long Island Sound?” conservative New England radio host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr asked LifeZette.
“I’m talking of course about Mary Jo Kopechne, the woman Ted Kennedy let drown after he drunkenly drove off a bridge,” continued Carr, author of the soon-to-be-published book “Kennedy Babylon” — a compilation of the scandalous stories of the Kennedy family.
“I hope we’re not counting on the Kennedy family to supply organs, especially livers,” quipped Carr.
Others warned of more serious implications of Kennedy’s bill.
“This proposal opens doors that our government should not be walking through,” wrote concerned Branford, Connecticut, resident Chris Kelly in the New Haven Register. “SB 750 forces all Connecticut residents to become organ donors upon their deaths unless, per the synopsis of the bill, ‘they join an official registry to opt out of organ donation,'” he continued.
The “proposal presents three entirely unacceptable conditions for Connecticut residents,” according to Kelly. “It insinuates that after our death, our bodies are by default the property of the state unless we have previously ‘opted out.'”
Secondly, “it forces us to trust a state bureaucracy to manage this opt-out registry accurately and safely.” Finally, “it flies in the face of our nation’s founding principles and the civil liberties that protect all of us.”
Kelly claimed the law was specifically designed to prey on unsuspecting citizens who might be unaware of the automatic opt-in.
The system “should continue to be … one that respects the intimate choice and right of the individual to volunteer their organs to others,” wrote Kelly. “Senator Kennedy’s bill, however, is a cynical attempt to increase the number of organs available by exploiting those Connecticut residents who may not be informed or aware enough to formally opt out.”
“It is not acceptable to legislate based on the assumption that you’ll get what you want because your constituents won’t be paying attention to the laws you pass.”