Albany, NY – Legislation that would have permitted authorities to presume consent for the harvesting of organs from deceased New Yorkers will not be pressed by its sponsor, New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky.
Agudath Israel of America vigorously opposes the bill. While the Orthodox Jewish organization acknowledges the shortage of organs for transplant, it notes that the subject of organ transplantation in Jewish law is complex, and it strongly challenges the bill’s implicit assumption “that the hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews across New York State would be in favor of allowing their organs to be harvested and transplanted,” in the words of a memorandum sent last month by Agudath Israel representatives to all the members of the New York State legislature.
Current law requires deference to a deceased individual’s personal and religious views before any steps can be taken to remove organs for transplant purposes, and prohibits such organ removal where there is any reason to believe the deceased individual would not have wanted it.
An Agudath Israel delegation was in Albany on Tuesday interacting with legislators over proposed cuts to reimbursements to yeshivos for mandatory services. When Mr. Brodsky heard that the delegation was making the rounds, he asked to meet with its members to lay out his reasons for proposing the bill and to hear first-hand the Orthodox Jewish concerns. The delegation, along with Assemblyman Dov Hikind, met with Mr. Brodsky, who respectfully explained his personal experience with organ transplantation – his daughter’s life was saved by one – and equally respectfully acknowledged the religious concerns, which were elucidated by Agudath Israel chairman of the board Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger and activists Chaskel Bennett and Shiya Ostreicher.
Assemblyman Brodsky told the delegation that, realizing the religious problems posed by his proposed bill, “I will not press for passing of this bill this year.”
Members of the Agudath Israel delegation expressed their gratification at the meeting, and with Mr. Brodsky’s response.
At Agudath Israel’s national headquarters in New York, Rabbi Chaim Zwiebel, the organization’s executive vice president reacted similarly: “We commend Assemblyman Brodsky,” he said, “for his sensitivity to the religious concerns of our community.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)