Texas Committee Passes Bill to Overturn Rule Allowing Hospitals to Euthanize Patients After 10-Day Notification

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 30, 2019   |   12:11PM   |   Austin, TX

A Texas legislative committee has passed pro-life legislation that would overturn the rule the state currently has that essentially allows hospitals to euthanize patients after a 10-day notification.

The Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services voted Senate Bill 2089 out of committee by a vote of 5-2 today. This priority Pro-Life bill by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would repeal the unethical 10-Day Rule, which allows hospitals to pull the plug on patients against their will. SB 2089 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Texas Right to Life applauded passage of the bill and told LifeNews.com in a statement that members of the committee heard from families adversely impacted by it.

“Earlier in April, the committee heard family after family share their heart-wrenching stories of loved ones who were victimized by the 10-Day Rule, whose deaths were hastened against their expressed medical decisions. Such families included Evelyn Kelly, who spoke passionately about successfully protecting her son Chris Dunn after being notified that his care would be forcibly withdrawn two days before Thanksgiving,” it explained. “Sandra Hollier similarly recounted that while the health of her 4-year-old son, Clifton, had improved, his ventilator was still removed despite her protests, and Clifton suffocated to death, dying in her arms.”

Texas Right to Life says opposing the rule is part of its pro-life commitment.

“Being Pro-Life includes standing for patients’ rights, and this bill would reform the current draconian provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act,” it said. “A coalition of 26 national and statewide leaders back the life-saving reform, recognizing that current law deprives hospitalized patients of due process.”

“Texas Right to Life thanks Senator Bryan Hughes for carrying this bill in the 86th Texas Legislature, and thanks Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) for addressing this pressing issue and voting SB 2089 out of her committee today. We look forward to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick bringing SB 2089 to the Senate floor for a vote very soon,” it concluded.

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Attorney Wesley Smith, a noted writer and author on end of life issues, testified in favor of the legislation. During his testimony he broke down the problems with the 10-day rule:

In Texas, patient autonomy is essentially a one-way street. Here, if a doctor disagrees with the patient’s decision to maintain life—and the patient or family refuses to permit the life-extending treatment to be withdrawn—the doctor can take the controversy to the hospital bioethics committee for a quasi-judicial hearing and binding ultimate ruling.

If the committee agrees with the doctor, the patient or family has only 10-days within which to find an alternative source of treatment and arrange a transfer. If they can’t, the life-extending treatment can be terminated over the patient or surrogate’s objection—meaning the patient will be forced into a death at a time when life could have been maintained.

To fully comprehend the unjust nature of Texas law in this regard, realize that these “futile care” or “inappropriate care” decisions do not terminate treatment because it won’t work, but because it does. It is keeping the patient alive when the doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.

This isn’t an objective medical determination, but a subjective value judgment. And given the subjective nature of such decision making—which involves the question of whether the among of suffering the intervention may cause outweighs the desire to maintain life—the law should give the ultimate power to decide such questions to patients, families, and duly appointed surrogates who know the patient most intimately, not to bioethics committee members who are strangers to the patient.