On Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 3074 authored by Representative Drew Springer (R-Gainesville) to limit the withdrawal of food and water, called “artificially administered food and water” (“AANH”) from hospitalized patients. Representative Springer worked diligently in revising the language so that Texas Right to Life could support his bill.
The changes made by Representative Springer represent a solid starting point in the full reformation of the Texas Advance Directives Act, the draconian “ten-day law.” HB 3074 marks a first positive step in what remains a long journey of restoring the civil liberties of hospitalized patients. The bill now moves to the State Senate.
The Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), found in Chapter 166 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, allows a hospital committee or physician to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment, including food and water, from a patient after providing only ten days’ notice, despite the patient’s advance directive or expressed medical decisions. Even if a patient is conscious, able to communicate, walk, or pay for his own care, Texas law authorizes hospitals and physicians to override the medical decisions of a patient and remove care, including food and water, after providing ten days’ notice.
Limiting the circumstances in which AANH can be withdrawn will prevent the involuntary dehydration and starvation of patients who are hospitalized. HB 3074 clarifies very narrowly that AANH does not have to be provided to patients who have specified that they do not want AANH or to patients whose physiological condition prevents them from assimilating and processing AANH.
Texas Right to Life supports HB 3074, not as the final word on the issue of TADA reform, but as a step in efforts to protect hospitalized patients. We are very grateful for the diligence of Pro-Life members and the time spent to facilitate changes to make HB 3074 a Pro-Life bill.