LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada would allow harvesting organs from the bodies of people — possibly prisoners, illegal immigrants and homeless people — under terms of terms of Senate Bill 109 (SB109), which was passed Tuesday in the Legislature. It must still be approved in the Assembly before it would go to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk for a signature.
It’s a shift from current law, which requires that organs can only be taken from people who have expressly agreed to make an “anatomical gift.” SB109 would give the coroner or medical examiner the authority to make the decision provided there’s no evidence that the decedent didn’t want to donate organs.
There are limits to SB109. The decision to take one or more organs would only come up if a “procurement organization” requested a specific organ needed, and it can’t proceed if there’s an objection from a parent/guardian or someone else authorized to decide the question.
The National Institute of Health says kidneys are the most commonly donated organ, and it can be taken after a person dies. More information is available here.
Republican Senator Robin Titus, a family physician, strongly objected to the legislation. She said the bodies in question tend to be homeless people or immigrants with no identification. To assume they would agree to donating organs is wrong, she said.
“This is an unfortunately bad precedent,” Titus said, joining other Republican senators in opposing the bill. It passed 13-8, enough votes to move it to the Assembly for approval.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Rochelle Nguyen (D-Las Vegas).
The Nevada Senate was expected to vote on nearly 50 bills Tuesday, but stopped after approving a dozen. Votes on several other controversial bills was put off until Wednesday.
The vote happened on a day when the Nevada Immigrant Coalition (NIC) was on the steps of the Legislature to support bills that “protect Nevada undocumented populations’ data privacy, access to healthcare and language access.” Among the bills supported by NIC is AB336, which would make it easier to get ID cards at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Also Tuesday, Union members were in Carson City to protest the possible end of a law that would eliminate COVID-era policies on hotel room cleaning practices — a change unions say is really about more profits for resorts and the potential end to some housekeeping jobs. Unions made their arguments in a “Lobby Day” at the Legislature.
When SB441 was approved in the 2020 special session during the pandemic, it didn’t have a sunset clause. It was created to allow for social distancing between hotel workers and guests. But now that lawmakers move to end it, unions say it is going to cost many people their jobs.
“This would be an absolute blow to a group of workers, who are majority women and women of color, who have already been economically most impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a Culinary Union news release.
“We cannot leave working women behind. Culinary Union urges the Nevada Legislature to oppose SB441 as written or significantly change the law to ensure the daily room cleaning provisions of the current law are intact, and also enforce the current law that mandates daily room cleaning – that isn’t happening currently across the gaming industry, an issue that the Culinary Union has been raising for the past two years,” the union said.