Russian Jewish and Christian leaders protested on Friday over a constitutional court ruling legalising the removal of organs for transplant without the consent of relatives.
“We understand that organs are needed for transplants, but taking them against the will of relatives and loved ones is inconceivable,” Russian news agencies quoted chief Rabbi Berl Lazar as saying.
“God gave man a certain number of organs. A person returning to God has to return this body as it was received,” he said.
A senior cleric from Russian Orthodox Church, which enjoys close relations with the state, said Russia should instead introduce a opt-in organ donation system like those in the United States and some other Western countries.
“The Russian Orthodox Church could... support the idea of voluntary (organ) donation in our country,” Dmitry Pershin, the chairman of the missionary commission at Moscow’s Diocesan Council, told RIA Novosti state news agency.
“There are no obstacles to this in the Christian tradition,” Pershin added.
The Russian Constitutional Court this week published a ruling that it is legal to remove organs from a deceased person’s body without the consent of relatives.
Russian law works on the presumption that a person has given consent to having their organs removed unless they stated otherwise while alive.
The deputy head of Russia’s Council of Muftis, Rushan Abbyasov, declined to comment when contacted by AFP on Friday, saying he had not yet read through the ruling.
The constitutional court’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the mother of Moscow student Alina Sablina who died in a car crash in January 2014.
The mother sought moral compensation after she discovered doctors had removed some of her deceased daughter’s organs.
Russia carries out very few organ transplants compared with Western countries. Doctors carried out fewer than 2,000 organ transplants in 2015, Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily wrote.