Monday, May 3, 2010

Choice After Death?

A large part of feminism is about the importance of choices-- the importance of making them freely, and the importance of trusting women to make them.  The political discourse usually centers around the choices about what to do regarding a pregnancy-- but really, the relevant choices extend into every aspect of life, and feminism is about letting women have agency and not making important choices for them.

So where do those choices stop?

I saw something today about the idea of opt-out organ donorship rather than opt-in, and some of the reactions were a little surprising to me-- but honestly, they were fairly in line with the ideal of choice. Though I see a dead body as simply a body, some of the Feministe commenters worried that less well off individuals would receive worse treatment under an opt-out policy, and some felt that bodily integrity and choice, even after death, ought to be paramount.

I do see the issues.  There is a large chance that if there is improper behavior it would impact the poor gar more severely than others.  There is also the fact that, if it is an opt out system, people without licenses or state ids would unwittingly be taking part and consenting, merely by existing.

The thing is, to me at least, that once we are dead-- well, choice no longer matters so much.  Or at least, our choice.  After all, we're dead.  Maybe it still matters to our living loved ones, the people we've left behind, but I highly doubt that nay higher power will hold the actions of others against us after we die.  And if my organs or body can do someone else good-- through a transplant, research, or study-- well, that's a hell of a lot better than letting my organic remains be preserved and stuck in the ground.  And I am admittedly biased, in that I have opted in to organ donation, and in that I would like my body to have use after my death-- but this is one case in which I think making people opt out is not that large of a harm.  We're all part of a complex system of living things, and our preserving corpses in the ground is, to me, a strange denial of that fact.  I think that once the consciousness leaves, the body itself becomes just an empty shell-- and as such, if it can give someone else life or promote research-- well, thats a definite positive.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Make sure your next of kin know and will carry out your wishes. In the end, your opt-ing-in means that they'll ask your family if they want to donate anything, and it's their call.

And I agree with you. My organs are totally on the market the minute I don't need them.