It’s hard to imagine this being allowed in Finland, or for that matter in most other countries I’ve driven in. I once turned right on red in Panama City (in Panama, that is, not Florida) after seeing several other cars do it at the very same intersection. Only, when I made my turn I got pulled over and was requested to pay the policeman an on-the-spot “fine” of forty US dollars, neatly concealed in my passport. Apparently, he was really good at spotting me as a tourist.
Something else in the States that I think makes perfect sense is how – at least in Georgia back in the 80s, and probably still today – drivers who want to be organ donors can have this indicated on their licenses. As I recall, each time you renew your license at the DMV, you are asked if you want to be an organ donor, and if so, it is marked on your new license. It’s an elegantly simple idea. Let’s face it, a major source of donated organs is, sadly enough, traffic accidents. And what better way to give the paramedics attending your demise a heads up that you are a donor than to have your status clearly indicated on the license they find among your personal effects.
|The Finnish donor card available on-line |
and already obsolete.
But, it’s even simpler than that. Until August of last year, the law allowed organs to be harvested even without explicit permission, confirmed by a donor card, as long as the deceased’s wishes were known. A wife, knowing her late husband would have wanted it that way, could give the okay even if the lazy bum had never got around to signing a card.
Such a policy might not fly in the US. But last year Finland, to combat a serious shortage of organs for transplants, changed the law again to make organ donation even more elegantly simple. Now organs can be harvested from any brain-dead patient, unless they were known to have explicitly been against donating their organs. In effect, it’s an opt-out system, which is mirrored by several other European countries. I can imagine that certain libertarian types in the US would have fits over such a policy, but here – where a reported 90% of Finns are personally in favor of donation – the switch to the new policy went largely unnoticed. And that seems like a very Finnish attitude to me.