Nova Scotia's presumed-consent bill for organ donation poised to become law

Nova Scotia legislation that presumes consent for organ donations is poised to become law, with a key official saying the new system addresses concerns raised by civil libertarians and others.

The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act moved through the committee stage Tuesday and will soon go to final reading in the legislature, making Nova Scotia the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt presumed consent for donation.

Although some groups and individuals have raised concerns, no one came forward to challenge the bill at committee.

In an interview Monday, Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said she read the bill and still wonders how it would work in practice.

Zwibel says many people who are opposed to presumed consent object to having the state telling them what to do with their bodies, and more discussion is needed.

But Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of the province's Legacy of Life and critical care organ donation program, says the regulations will take into consideration people's rights over their own bodies, as well as respect for religious and cultural concerns.