Disability Advocates Say Texas ‘Futile Care’ Law Should Be Euthanized

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Disability Advocates Say Texas ‘Futile Care’ Law Should Be Euthanized Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 2, 2006

Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — With a state "futile care" care law coming into play in two potential euthanasia cases in Texas, disability advocates say the law itself should be euthanized. The statute allows medical facilities to determine that a patient is beyond hope and only gives family of the patient 10 days to find another facility willing to provide treatment.

The law has come up in the cases of Andrea Clark, in a Houston hospital, and a Vietnamese woman named Yenlang Vo, who is at a hospital in Austin.

Disability rights advocates are questioning the law, which allows a physician to overrule a patient or their authorized decision-maker in denying wanted life-sustaining treatment.

Futile care policies do not generally require that the treatment be objectively futile, but allow doctors to use subjective criteria such as quality of life judgments and even economic factors as grounds for denying treatment, according to the disability rights group Not Dead Yet.

"We think that all health care consumers should be questioning whether it’s advisable, or even constitutional, for doctors to have this kind of power," said Diane Coleman, president of the organization.

Bob Kafka, a disability rights activist with NDY’s Texas affiliate, agrees.

"I have come to the conclusion that the essence of any futility law embraces involuntary euthanasia," says Kafka. "The ability of a doctor to overrule both the patient and their surrogate in withdrawing life-sustaining treatment is in violation of the principle of patient autonomy."

Kafka was working with a group to ask lawmakers to make changes to the law, but he says the law can’t be improved but should be thrown out entirely.

"There’s no way to ‘fix’ this law. It just needs to be killed — or euthanized, for those who prefer softer language," he said.

This isn’t the first time the Texas law on "futile care" has received national attention.

During the struggle for Terri Schiavo’s life, Sun Hudson, a 6-month-old boy with a serious condition was removed from a feeding tube over his mother’s objections under the Texas law.

Related web sites:
Not Dead Yet – https://www.notdeadyet.org