I agree. While I too think it's somewhat silly to be concerned about ownership of body parts after death, this effectively causes ownership of the corpse (or at least parts of it) to pass to the state, unless you opt out. So while your property, finances, etc. pass to your family members by default, your own body comes under control of the state by default (who cedes it to medical professionals, it seems).
Death rituals are important to many people, especially loved ones who have to go through mourning. As the summary notes, many families DO object when it comes to this, even if they may be in favor of organ donations in the abstract. Does the state's interest in keeping other people alive outweigh the family's interest in their mourning ritual, particularly when it involves the actual physical parts of that loved one?
No, the state's interest doesn't, which is why the person has the first, last, and final say. The family's wishes, of course, should have no bearing whatsoever; if Johnny's family is all against organ donation, but Johnny is for it, then Johnny's organ's get donated.
I'm all in favor of increasing organ donations -- making it trivial to sign up at any opportunity, etc. But what this law is effectively doing is removing ownership of the deceased person from the family and passing it to the state. I'm generally skeptical of any "opt-in" policies, and this one seems a bit worrying in terms of what it's saying legally about what the state can do.
No, what it's doing is setting up a default action when no other instructions are specified. Just like everything else that happens when you die; if you haven't specifically declared what happens to your property, chattels, dependents, and so on, there are default rules that kick in and attempt to dispose of everything. Just, up till relatively recently, those default rules were 'buried in accordance with local majority religious views.'
Just to throw out some "slippery slope" possibilities -- could the government also decide that you are "opt-in" to a DNR order by default? If it would save on healthcare costs, perhaps speed up organ donation (and thus save lives), could that also be justified? If that seems extreme, how about if you're on life support in a coma? How about a persistent vegetative state? At what point can the state's interest in your organs outweigh the slim possibility you might ever wake up? Why let those organs deteriorate in that body for weeks, months, or years? What about those who don't have family members around to argue legally that organs should NOT be harvested yet?
They could, sure. Hell, the government could, in theory, simply designate you for organ donation for the high Party officials, enslave your children, and induct your beloved cat Mittens into their harems.
Some of these scenarios may seem more extreme than others, but it seems like this seemingly minor "change in default" could have other legal consequences in the future in terms of how many decisions family members have control of in determining what happens to a loved one who is potentially near death. How far can the state's interest go here in superseding the wishes of the family?
Well, this is why we've seen developments in things like living wills and treatment directives. You assume that 'family members' should have a large amount of say in what happens to a loved one. I question that assertion; have ever since that episode of The Practice when Rebecca was badly injured, needed a blood transfusion, and her Jehovah's Witness parents refused it on religious grounds, on her behalf, while her friends and coworkers all swore up and down that Rebecca was not an adherent, and would want the transfusion.
We in the west also have a lot of State control based on old religious strictures; I, for one, do believe that a person (not their family, or the State) should be allowed to choose to die.
Really, though, needing to tick a box saying 'Opt out of organ donation' is an incredibly low burden to place on people, especially when you just build it in to something like a driver's license application. Especially given that it places zero duty or burden upon you; it would be one thing if you were required to give up your organs, AND had to submit to regular health checks to make sure you were caring for those organs properly, for example. But once you're dead, you have zero need for your organs. So if you want to assert control over them, well, we have mechanisms for doing exactly that, and require people to do them already for such things, like directing that they do or don't want to be cremated, for example.