Texas Bill Gives Doctors Authority to Deny CPR to Patients

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2013   |   2:01PM   |   Austin, TX

A measure in the Texas legislature is under fire from a national pro-life group that say it would allow doctors the right to refuse giving CPR to patients.

The National Right to Life Committee is calling for the defeat of a Texas bill – S.B. 303 – that would allow doctors to impose “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” orders on patients even if doing so would violate the patient’s express wishes.

“Texas S.B. 303 violates the most fundamental tenet of patient autonomy by allowing doctors to strip patients (or their surrogates), of the right to dictate their wishes with regard to CPR,” said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics.

He told LifeNews in a statement, “Texas S.B. 303 gives doctors the unilateral authority to deny CPR, thus imposing involuntary death on patients, with little recourse for patients or their surrogates to seek relief from an imposed DNR order.”

Under the bill, sponsored by State Senator Bob Deuell, Vice-Chair of the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, a doctor is authorized to impose a “DNR” order even over the protest of a patient or surrogate.

Balch said the bill provides that the most a patient or surrogate who wants the DNR removed can do is pay for “a second opinion at the patient’s or surrogate’s expense” and – only after that “opinion has been obtained” – appeal to the health care facility’s ethics committee. If the patient should go into cardiopulmonary arrest in the meantime, the patient will suffer involuntary death without resuscitation. In some circumstances, the patient would be denied even the opportunity for a second medical opinion or resort to the facility committee.



“We appeal to anyone who cares about patient autonomy or the right to live to shine the light of outraged public opinion on this dangerous bill,” Balch added.

National Right to Life’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics has an analysis of S.B. 303 posted here: https://www.nrlc.org/MedEthics/analysisofs303.pdf

The full text of the legislation is here: https://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/83R/billtext/pdf/SB00303I.pdf