April 19, 1995

Mandated Choice for Organ Donation

Author Affiliations

Cleveland State University Cleveland, Ohio

JAMA. 1995;273(15):1177. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520390034025

To the Editor.  —I must take strong exception to the views of Drs Murray and Youngner1 that "[t]reating a person how they want to be treated is a persuasive argument for doing just that while they are alive; it loses much of its persuasive force after death."This is not only not true morally speaking, but the entire legal tradition of the law of wills dating to the Roman era is eloquent reminder that it is false. I fear that the authors confuse the elementary distinction between a person's ability to exercise autonomy and the fact that the right to autonomy survives even the death of the body. This fact, namely, that there is enshrined in the law of wills a recognition of the posthumous survival of moral right of autonomy, is at the very heart of the legal obligation to carry out the terms of a will executed

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