Three quarters of Swiss in favour of controversial ‘opt-out’ organ donation law

Three quarters of Swiss in favour of controversial ‘opt-out’ organ donation law
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
A poll has revealed 76 percent of Switzerland residents are in favour of establishing organ donation as the default option under Swiss law.

Under the proposal, all residents of Switzerland would be presumed to consent to donate their organs upon their death, with those not wishing to do so required to opt out. 

A people’s initiative which was set up in April of 2019 has advocated for the changes, arguing that it is warranted by the Switzerland-wide shortage of organ donors. The rules would apply to everyone living in Switzerland over the age of 16. 

In 2018, 68 people died in Switzerland while on the waiting list for donated organs. Swiss organ donation rates are comparatively low and the Federal Council has lamented an ‘organ shortage’ in the country. 

Neighbouring Austria currently has an opt-out scheme in place, along with larger European nations like Spain, France and Italy.

The idea was debated in Germany in 2019, although the current law still requires residents to opt in should they wish to donate their organs. 

Opposition to the law

While three in four respondents were in favour of establishing an opt-out system – and the same percentage indicated they would be willing to donate their own organs – a minority were opposed to any change to the law. 

The poll – which asked respondents if they were strongly against the plan or only somewhat against – found that 11 percent of respondents had strong oppositions to establishing an opt-out system, while seven percent were only somewhat opposed. 

A total of six percent were undecided on the proposal. 

As reported by NZZ, the Federal Council have indicated support for changing the law, although they would only do so if the family's right of refusal was kept intact in some circumstances. 

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