Texas Mother Fights Hospital’s Attempt to Take Her Baby Off Life Support

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Texas Mother Fights Hospital’s Attempt to Take Her Baby Off Life Support Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 30, 2006

Dallas, TX (LifeNews.com) — A Texas mother and her baby are the latest victims in an ongoing battle against a Texas law that allows medical facilities to tell the family of a patient that they have 10 days to find another medical center willing to treat the patient because their doctors think the case is hopeless.

That’s what happened to two other families that were the focus of LifeNews.com reports and it’s now happened to Dixie Belcher.

Doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas say Belcher’s son Daniel’s case is "futile."

Daniel is nearly brain dead, can’t breathe without a ventilator and can’t eat without a feeding tube. The center’s ethics board has ruled that continuing to care for Daniel is inappropriate and they’re ready to take his life by removing him from life support.

But, Belcher tells the Dallas Morning News that she’s not ready to give up on her 10-month old son.

"Something deep down inside is telling me not to unplug my [baby]," Belcher said. "I know it’s going to take him quite a while to pull out of this, but I know he’s my little fighter, and he’s got to pull through. He’s got to pull through."

Doctors say Daniel is showing no response to external stimuli but Belcher said she’s asked her son to open his eyes and he opens them as wide as he can.

Belcher said the decision to take Daniel’s life doesn’t set well with her because she’s been in the same situation before.

Fourteen year’s ago, in another hospital room at Children’s Medical Center, she told the News she struggled with a doctor’s suggestion that she remove her 5-month old daughter Jamie from life support because she had severe breathing problems.

She agreed then, but can’t bring herself to take Daniel’s life.

A judge hears the case on Friday and the odds for Daniel aren’t good because Belcher has lost the decision-making power due to allegations of neglect. The state of Texas has Daniel in its custody.

Still, a Dallas district judge issued a restraining order on May 19 preventing the hospital from taking his life two days before that was scheduled to happen.

This is the latest battle over a Texas futile care law that has come under fire for producing situations similar to the fight surrounding Terri Schiavo. The law has become a focal point for both disabled activists and pro-life advocates who say it encourages doctors and medical facilities to deny lifesaving treatment to patients and leaves families with few options to help.

The Texas law that provides medical facilities the right to give a family 10 days notice that treatment will be withdrawn.