Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act in PA Someday?

Online access to drafts of "Uniform Laws" was the subject of a posting made on June 15, 2007, on the Wyoming Law Library Newsletter, entitled "Electronic Access to the Uniform" Laws. It noted:

The Biddle Law Library at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in partnership with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws recently announced access to electronic versions of draft and final acts of Uniform Laws and Final Acts.
Various proposed "Uniform Laws" are the product of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), which holds a mission "to research, draft and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas where uniformity is desirable and practical."

The organization is described on its website as follows:
[NCCUSL], now 115 years old, provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of the law. NCCUSL’s work supports the federal system and facilitates the movement of individuals and the business of organizations with rules that are consistent from state to state.
News about NCCUSL is found online at its "Newsroom", which offers Press Releases, a News Archive, various Memos/Articles on specific uniform law issues, and downloadable Newsletters.

But NCCUSL's draft & final versions of proposed uniform laws are maintained at a different website -- one administered here in Pennsylvania, by the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

One of the uniform laws recently offered by NCCUSL to the states is the
Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), described in NCCUSL's Press Release dated July 13, 2006 [links added]:
[The revised UAGA] is designed to increase the number of organs available for transplant and improve the system for allocating organs to recipients, [and] has been endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA). The new UAGA has already been introduced in 11 states; more than 25 introductions are expected this year. * * *
A January 31, 2007, NCCUSL Press Release provided further background [links added]:
The AMA joins the United Network for Organ Sharing, the National Kidney Foundation, the Eye Bank Association of America, the American Association of Tissue Banks, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Cornea Society, and the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations in endorsing the new UAGA.

The new Act makes it easier to document the desire to donate, particularly as provided on drivers’ licenses; specifies an expanded list of persons who may make an anatomical gift on behalf of the deceased, such as agents with healthcare power-of-attorney, adult grandchildren or close friends; more clearly provides for a document of refusal if an individual does not wish to donate; allows for registering gifts on existing donor registries; and encourages the creation of donor registries, whether by states or by other entities.
On February 12, 2007, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates approved NCCUSL's new UAGA.

The revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act is ripe for consideration in Pennsylvania, where there continues to be a need, presently addressed under PA's enactment of a prior version of the UAGA. See: "Organ Donation in Pennsylvania" (PA EE&F Law Blog, 06/14/07).

Two other uniform laws -- both also adopted by NCCUSL on that same day (July 13, 2006) -- may bear some scrutiny, too, in a review of Pennsylvania's existing laws on these topics:
  • The Uniform Power of Attorney Act provides a simple way for people to deal with their property by providing a power of attorney that survives the incapacity of the principal and thus avoids the need to bring expensive and time-consuming guardianship or conservatorship actions to care for assets. While the act is primarily a set of default rules that can be altered by specific provisions within a power of attorney, the act also contains safeguards for the protection of an incapacitated principal. This act requires certain powers to be expressly and specifically conferred, eliminating questions about the agent’s authority. This act has also been endorsed by the ABA Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.
  • The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, like its predecessor, the Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act, provides statutory guidelines for management, investment, and expenditures of funds held by charitable institutions. The new act expressly provides for diversification of assets, pooling of assets, and total return investment, to implement whole portfolio management, bringing the law governing charitable institutions in line with modern investment and expenditure practice. This act has also been endorsed by the ABA Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.

Development of laws in Pennsylvania should take into account -- although not necessarily adopt by rote -- the provisions of such nationally-developed proposals.