Efforts to force a referendum on new Dutch organ donor law fail

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Attempts to force a referendum on the government’s plan to create an ‘opt-out’ system for organ donation have failed after fewer than half the necessary number of people signed up.

Shock blog GeenStijl and the other organisers had until Thursday to gather the 300,000 signatures needed to force a public vote but have now given up after falling far short of their target.

The government has pledged to remove the right to organise referenda from the statute books and if enough signatures had been collected, the donor law would have been the last one.




Both previous referendums, on the EU’s accession treaty with Ukraine and broadening security agencies’ powers to tap internet traffic, resulted in ‘no’ votes. A ‘no’ vote does not compel the government to repeal the law, but it is required to reconsider it and present its conclusions to parliament.

Over 6.1 million people are currently included on the organ donation register, and 60% are in favour of being donors. Almost 12% will leave the donation up to relatives and the rest are opposed.

The new system, which will come into effect in summer 2020, is a ‘yes but’ register. Everyone will be included and will be considered a potential donor unless they have specifically said that they do not want to donate their organs after death.