Under current state standards, a child who was intellectually challenged or otherwise impaired would not be allowed on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant. Organs are reserved for otherwise healthy people. On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives voted 93 to 0 in favor of a bill that would change this discriminatory practice.
House Bill 263 is sponsored by state Rep. Debbie Wood, R-Valley. Wood explained in committee that she learned of this situation from one of her constituents, whose disabled daughter needed an organ but could not even get on the organ waiting list because of her Down Syndrome. Wood said the mother’s story was heartbreaking.
According to the synopsis: “This bill would prohibit discrimination against an individual from receiving an organ transplant based on the individual having a disability. This bill would also require health care practitioners, hospitals and other health care facilities, and organ transplant centers to provide reasonable accommodations to an individual with a disability in medical need of an anatomical gift or organ transplant.”
This legislation passed the Alabama House last year but failed to be considered by the Alabama Senate due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. When the Legislature finally returned to finish the 2020 Legislative Session, the focus was on passing out the budgets and local legislation in the shortened regular session.
There was no opposition to HB263 in the House. It now advances to the Alabama Senate, where it has been assigned to the Senate Health Committee.
Tuesday was day 17 of the 2021 Legislative Session. The Alabama Constitution of 1901 limits the Legislature to no more than 30 legislative days in a 105 calendar day regular session. The next session of the Legislature will be on Thursday. The primary purpose of the regular session is to pass the Education Trust Fund and General Fund budgets. Both budgets have passed out of their House of origin and are being considered by budget committees in the second house.