The Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services passed the Respecting Texas Patients’ Right to Life Act (SB 917 by Senator Bryan Hughes) by a vote of 5-4. Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) have worked alongside Senator Hughes (R-Mineola) on the needed reforms throughout this 87th Session of the Texas Legislature and in sessions past. Senator Dawn Buckingham, M.D., (R-Lakeway) and Senator César Blanco (D-El Paso) joined Hall, Perry, and Kolkhorst in voting SB 917 out of committee.
Under current law, the Texas Advance Directives Act, hospital committees can impose a 10-day countdown on the lives of vulnerable Texas patients. SB 917 reforms the 10-day countdown placed on patients’ lives.
On April 7, the committee heard moving testimony in support of SB 917 from bioethics experts and families whose ailing loved one was victimized by the deadly 10-Day Rule.
Among others who traveled to Austin to share their saga under the 10-Day Rule, Huyen Do testified in support of SB 917, recounting her experience fighting the 10-Day Rule to save her mother. In 2020, Huyen’s mother, Lucy, was threatened by the 10-Day Rule. Huyen stated that she would not wish this horrific experience on her worst enemy. Texas Right to Life patient advocates saved Lucy from the countdown, and she lived 327 days beyond the start of the 10-Day Rule.
Since the hearing, several organizations have been working overtime in the Capitol to delay and kill SB 917. Senator Hughes and Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) have presided over stakeholder negotiations with these groups and worked to achieve substitute language that gives vulnerable patients and their families 90 days to transfer to another physician or facility. While Texas Right to Life fully supports the filed version of SB 917, we commend the leadership of Senator Hughes and Representative Parker on working to secure more time for these patients.
Despite the heart-wrenching testimony of the families and the 90-day substitute language, four senators on the Committee on Health and Human Services refused to give Texas patients more time to transfer out of a facility that intends to deny them basic medical care. Senator Donna Campbell, M.D., (R-New Braunfels), Senator Borris Miles (D-Houston), Senator Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), and Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) voted against Pro-Life Priority SB 917.
After passage by the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the next step for SB 917 is to be scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor. The House equivalent, HB 2609, passed the House Committee on Public Health in April.
All Texans must urge their state legislators to schedule this vital bill for a vote quickly as only 20 days remain in the session.