BHA supports Welsh government plans on ‘presumed organ consent’

Assembly members in Wales will today be voting on introducing an opt-out organ donation system. The Welsh government wants to introduce a system where individuals will be presumed to have consented for their organs to be donated after death unless they have specifically objected.

The BHA  responded in support of the proposals to an initial consultation, which ran between November 2011 and January 2012, and encouraged members and supporters in Wales to do likewise. The BHA was also called to give oral evidence in Cardiff on the issue and did so, strongly emphasizing the ethical case for the proposed change.

The British Medical Association advocated for a ‘soft’ system of ‘presumed consent’ and under the proposed legislation, deceased individuals will be presumed to have consented to donating their organs on their death, unless they have expressed an objection during their lifetime. The deceased’s next of kin will continue to have a role in the process, and there will be safeguards to protect children, people who do not live in Wales and those who do not have the capacity to give informed consent. The BHA supports this approach, accompanied by a public information and education campaign.

Commenting ahead of the vote, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘We strongly welcome the Welsh Government’s lead in this area, and the example they have set for the rest of the UK. This progressive legislation will mean more lives saved and reduce the demand for illegally trafficked organs while preserving individual freedom.

‘Regrettably, these proposals have previously been opposed by religious groups. We believe it is important to stress the facts of the proposals, and that a soft opt-out system provides rigorous protection for people who are opposed to organ donation for themselves, and for their recently deceased love ones.’


For further comment or information, contact BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on 0773 843 059 or

Draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill

Read about the BHA’s work on organ donation

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.