Louisiana Bill Protecting Disabled Patients Heads to Gov. Blanco

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Bill Protecting Disabled Patients Heads to Gov. Blanco Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 22, 2005

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana state legislature has approved legislation that would protect disabled patients and sent it to Governor Kathleen Blanco for her consideration. The measure is intended to protect people like Terri Schiavo from being starved to death without their consent.

The measure would prohibit the removal of feeding tubes from such patients who are unable to make their own medical decisions.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Gary Beard, a Republican, presumes that any patient who couldn’t make his own decision about receiving food and water should be entitled to such care unless they had an advance directive stipulating otherwise.

Current state law allows feeding tubes to be removed if there is not any language in a living will saying not to do so.

Beard said the measure is needed to prevent the starvation death of Louisiana patients in similar situations as Terri Schiavo.

The measure also ensures that a spouse convicted of a violent crime against the wife or husband and causing the person to be incapacitated, may not decide whether to remove the spouse from life support or withhold lifesaving medical treatment.

The bill would transfer that right to the person’s children or siblings.

A state Senate committee heard testimony from Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother. He asked legislators to adopt the proposal and talked about Terri’s death.

"She suffered a slow death," he said. "Dehydration is not something I can ever describe to you."

"Every life is sacred, and we need to treat life that way. We should err on the side of human life," Schindler added. He said the bill would help other families avoid having to go through the "absolutely horrific" trials the Schindlers did during Terri’s painful 13 day starvation death.

Pro-life groups such as the Louisiana Right to Life Federation and Louisiana Family Forum back the legislation, SB 40. The Louisiana Hospital Association and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill.