Research seminar: Presumed dissent

As part of IDEA's 2020-21 research seminar series, we welcome Dr Nicola Williams, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, from the University of Lancaster.


“It is often claimed that a legitimate approach to organ donation is a policy of ‘presumed consent’, also known as ‘opt-out’ or ‘deemed authorisation’. Under such systems, individuals are presumed willing to donate at least some of their organs and tissues post-mortem unless they have explicitly refused permission. No two opt-out policies are exactly alike however and they commonly differ in certain key respects.

Of these, the one which has gained most attention is the role given to the views of prospective donors’ families and a small but valuable literature has emerged on this topic. Another respect in which opt-out policies often differ, but which has received comparatively little attention, is in the various exclusions and safeguards built into the policy. Such exclusions normally specify groups excluded from opt-out policy (such as younger children or adults lacking mental capacity). However, they may also specify particular types of organs and tissues and/or transplants for which explicit consent will still be required.

This paper explores the question of whether and, if so, why and how, opt-out systems for post-mortem organ donation ought to restrict the types of organs and tissues for which consent is deemed and explores and critiques the process leading to recent changes to organ donation legislation in England, Wales, and Scotland.”


Dr Nicola Williams (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Lancaster).

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Please see our 2020-21 schedule for more upcoming research seminars.

This research seminar series of webinars is curated by Dr Andrew Kirton.