When freshman Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-Buffalo, announced legislation this weekend to make New York’s organ donor registry an “opt-out” program rather than an “opt-in” one, he expected it to be controversial.

However, Burke said over the past several days he’s received even more backlash than expected on social media and via calls to his office. Monday, he said he did not plan to index the legislation in the Assembly and would not move forward with it, for now.

“The public reaction, it certainly wasn’t scientific, but I think the overwhelming response to people to my office was that they weren’t comfortable with it,” Burke said.

The assemblyman believed many people misunderstood the finer points of the proposal. He said perhaps it was his fault for being too vague on the original press release.

The legislation would not have immediately put all New Yorkers who have not opted out, on the organ donor registry. Rather, anybody 18 or older, applying for a drivers license or license renewal would then have to say they did not want to be on the list.

Burke also acknowledged, under current state law, it’s mandatory to answer the registry question but he said his legislation would change the wording to “encourage” more donors. If he were to do to it again, he said he would include a copy of the current form and a specific example of the question he wants instead.

“I am not going to push a legislative proposal that my constituents are not comfortable with,” Burke said. “What I’m going to do is continue to work with them and engage with them because it’s about saving people’s lives.”

April is Donate Life month, and Burke said he wanted to start a conversation about a serious problem in the state. There are currently 9,500 people on New York’s wait list.

“Currently there are people on a wait list who will die because there are not enough donors,” he said. “We need to fix that. If people aren’t comfortable with that (opt-out) program, then I need to hear their ideas on how to fix that.”

Burke did not rule out introducing the same legislation or a revised version later this year, but said he needs to do more community outreach first.