News & events

Public Lecture: Prof Jan Jans (11 April)

Opting-in or Opting-out: That's the Question!

On the Ethics of Legislation with regard to Organ Donation


Half a century ago, the first successful heart transplant was reported by Christiaan Barnard and his team at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Since then, transplantation medicine has moved from being ‘experimental’ to a normal medical procedure. However, it quickly became clear that this progress comes with a shadow side: the demand for transplantable organs turns out to exceed the number of available organs, resulting in waiting lists and patients dying before a suitable organ becomes available.

This tension can be approached in two ways: leave it to the market to bridge the gap between demand and supply or enact legislation with regard to donation and transplantation. In rejecting the commercialization of donation/transplantation, two main legal approaches have developed: a system of ‘opting-in’ meaning that the decision to donate is up to each individual citizen or a system of ‘opting-out’ meaning that by law every citizen is a potential donor unless s/he registers her/his objection.

Underneath these different approaches are not only questions of ‘efficacy’ but also different ethical choices which will be unpacked in this lecture. Attention will also be paid to the –shifting- position of the Catholic Church and its reasoning to favour becoming a potential donor. 


Event details
Wednesday, 11 April 2018, 7pm

St Augustine Auditorium
53 Ley Road, Victory Park, JHB

*** Free of charge, although a cash donation
to St Augustine would be appreciated ***



Prof Jan Jans is an old friend of St Augustine College and since 2002 a Visiting Professor at our university. Between 1985-1990 he worked as an Assistant in Medical Ethics at the faculties of Medicine and Theology, Catholic University of Leuven; then as an Assistant Professor for Moral Theology at Tilburg Faculty of Theology since 1991 and since 2006 at Tilburg University. He has been promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. Between 2006-2010 he was a Director of the Centre for Intercultural Ethics and a Director of Education at the Department of Religious Studies and Theology from 2007 until 2012. Currently, he is the Secretary of the Research Ethics Committee while keeping the status of Associate Professor. 

Prof Jans is also an active member of the European Society for Catholic Theology, the Internationale Vereinigung für Moraltheologie und Sozialethik, the Societas Ethica, the Association of Teachers of Moral Theology [UK] and the Society of Christian Ethics [USA], and was vice-president of INSeCT (2008-2011).
Main areas of his research interest within fundamental moral theology are images of God, personalism and ethical methodology. Included in but also going beyond moral theology are the issues of gender justice and intercultural ethics. A focus of ongoing research aims at exploring the concept of ‘neighbour’ as a hermeneutical key with regard to a characteristic non-exclusive Christian moral identity.

You can read more about Prof Jans here: 

Prof Jans' annual lectures in South Africa, combined with his teaching for the Master programmes at St Augustine, are always very well attended. We look forward to being, once again, challenged and inspired.