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Political Guts

— by Don Poremski, BMW Motorcycle Owners of Cleveland

Every once in a while there appears a person of influence in our representative democratic system who completely miscontrues the notion of community benefit. We have suffered through the Danforth and Joan Claybrook problems in the past, (yes, she of the NHTSA and safety bike with seat pressure switches, seat belts, training wheels and 85 m.p.h. speedometers, not to mention the child-killer air bags for cars, which even Volvo maintained were dangerous) but now a new idiot has popped up in the Southwest. This article was supposed to be a rant on just how someone, anyone, could think that involuntary organ donation was to be given serious enough consideration to be written into law. The bill was withdrawn on Jan. 30th mainly due to pressure applied by the American Motorcyclist Association, so I'll now continue with it as an endorsement of the AMA's quick action and why any serious (but mainly frivolous) rider should consider becoming a member.

Allen V. Hurt, Republican, Waterflow, New Mexico, had proposed Senate Bill 239, an act relating to New Mexico drivers' licenses. It created a "mandatory donor status for a person operating a motorcycle without a helmet who, as a result of an accident, is pronounced brain dead." The enormity of that proposal was striking in that it did not take into consideration any involuntary organ donation by automobile drivers pronounced brain dead, a ghoulish oversight in light of the fact that most car accident deaths occur as a result of head injury. Go on from there to any degree of expansion into "risky" activities: water skiing, swimming, bungee jumping, skydiving, boxing, creating footage for "Jackass"...,you take my meaning, and why is it that motorcyclists are singled out for legislation? Curiosity set in and demanded research on the man to see what lay behind his attempting this outrage.

Turns out that Senator Hurt is also Doctor Hurt and affiliated with the New Mexico Hospitals & Health Systems Assoc. ( NMHHSA). He also belongs to the New Mexico Assoc. of Education Retirees and sits on the panel for Legislative Health & Human Services Medicaid Reform. That would tell you that he has probably seen first hand the shortage of donated organs, but once again, it was motorcyclists that he presumed would be the best group for exploitation.

Don't get me wrong. I agree with Sean Maher, AMA (not the doctors' group) Director of State Affairs when he says, "Organ donation is a noble cause that truly can represent the gift of life for people faced with some terminal illnesses... but making the commitment to become an organ donor must remain a private decision left to each person. Classifying an entire group of citizens as nothing more than organs to be harvested isn't just demeaning to motorcyclists, it's offensive to all humans." But, let's look more closely at how Dr./Sen. Hurt was going to create an organ supply.

Already stricken from the bill before the AMA intervened, was the assumption "that an applicant applying for a license to operate a motorcycle is an organ donor unless the applicant affirmatively rejects donor status."

Snooze while completing your application and you could be subject to the same circumstances in which a California rider found himself. "They had me on life support, but I had died three times during surgery and each time the doctor came out to my wife asking to harvest. My wife's answer each time was, 'No. You fix him.'" If the doctor had access to a legal loophole for harvesting, that dude would be dead, well most of him.

But, reading Section C of the proposed bill as submitted is still chilling and is included here to raise the awareness of anyone, in any state, who applies for a driver's license. I know I'll read my renewal.

SB0239, Section C. Within the forms prescribed by the department for applications and licenses of drivers of motor vehicles, a space shall be provided for the following statement, which the department shall, as soon as practicable, include on the application form: "As a condition of being issued a license to operate motor vehicles in New Mexico, a person operating a motorcycle without a helmet and who, as a result of an accident, is pronounced brain dead pursuant to Section 12-2-4 NMSA 1978 by a licensed physician shall become an organ donor regardless of whether the person made an anatomical gift by completing the organ donor statement provided on this application or pursuant to Section 24-6A-2 NMSA 1978 of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act."

So, the lessons are: know for whom you are voting, but VOTE; take careful consideration when deciding about organ donation; and join the AMA to fight off these medical and political vultures.

— Reprinted with permission and first published in the BMWMOC "Cleveland Club News"

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