Bill from Ted Kennedy Jr. Would Make All Connecticut Residents Organ Donors

: Edward Kennedy Jr. speaks during the Edward M. Kennedy Institute Dedication Ceremony as U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Jean Kennedy Smith, and Patrick Kennedy listen March 30, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Edward Kennedy Institute is a testament to one of the …
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

A bill proposed by Democrat State Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. would require all Connecticut residents to be automatically registered as organ donors – unless they choose to opt out.

Currently, Connecticut residents must sign a consent form to become an organ donor, and many can do so when they obtain or renew their driver’s license.

“We can easily increase the availability of donated organs,” Kennedy, son of the late U.S. senator from Massachusetts, wrote in a letter to the editor at the New Haven Register in February.

I have proposed a bill, SB 750, An Act Concerning Organ Donation, that would change our state’s policy on organ donation so that all citizens can become donors upon their death unless they join an official registry to “opt-out.” Connecticut has an “opt-in” donation policy, meaning only those who have given explicit consent are donors. This policy results in a small percentage of citizens who donate their organs at the time of death, even though polls show that over 90 percent of those surveyed say that they would be willing to donate their organs when they die. Over 30 countries around the world, including 24 European nations, have “presumed consent” or “opt-out” policies, resulting in very high organ donation rates.

Connecticut can lead the way — and save lives — with an easier and more compassionate organ donation policy.

In an email to supporters, J.R. Romano, chairman of the Connecticut GOP, condemned the measure as a “fringe, off-topic agenda item.” The Democrat-led state is currently struggling with its poor fiscal status.

The bill has received considerable resistance from the Connecticut Nurses Association and the Connecticut Hospital Association, which, in its criticism of the legislation, pointed out its numerous legal issues.

Alexandra K. Glazier, president and CEO of New England Donor Services, said Kennedy’s bill actually could lead to even lower rates of organ donations. According to the Hartford Courant, she recommended instead a public awareness education campaign funded by a voluntary $2 donation when making a DMV transaction, a procedure adopted by other states.

Writing at the Journal Inquirer, managing editor Chris Powell referred to Kennedy’s claim the bill would answer the problem of the long wait list for organs as “arrogant presumption:”

More or less compelling people to become organ donors will just breed suspicion of and resistance to government instead of encouraging generosity and altruism. If Kennedy’s legislation is enacted, Connecticut might as well change its motto from “Qui transtulit sustinet” (“Who transplanted sustains”) to “Quid tua mea” (“What’s yours is mine”) — if the Democratic Party hasn’t already copyrighted it.

State Sen. Terry Gerratana (D), co-chairwoman of the state legislature’s public health committee, says the controversial bill will not move forward in its present form.

Co-sponsors of SB-750 are state Sen. Martin Looney (D) and state Rep. Josh Elliott (D). According to the Courant, Looney recently received a kidney transplant from a living donor.