Three measures to protect patients and to restore their rights to direct their own health care were filed in the State Capitol this week. Since the Texas Advance Directive Law was enacted in 1999, Texas Right to Life has helped hundreds of patients defend themselves against involuntary denial of medical treatment.
Under the Texas Advance Directive Act, doctors can legally withdraw or deny basic medical treatment from patients — EVEN AGAINST their wishes or advance directive. Once the doctor’s decision is made to withdraw treatment — including food and water – the patient and family are given ten days to find a transfer to another care setting or to another physician. The bills filed would ensure that those with terminal illnesses and/or disabilities are not subject to the discriminatory euthanasia practices enshrined in Texas law.
Another bill brings Texas up to par with 11 other states that require the physician or facility to transfer a patient rather than withdraw and deny his medical treatment.
House Bill 1455, carried by State Representative Stephanie Klick, also a registered nurse, addresses a few gaps in health care that she’s seen as a caregiver and patient advocate. Many times, DNR orders are written for a patient without his or family’s knowledge, and then the patient and family are bewildered when the care level diminishes. DNR orders are often interpreted as an indication that the patient does not want care, when in reality, the patient may not that he is “DNR status,” or he may request some resuscitative measures but not others. House Bill 1455 will foster a more thoughtful dialogue between physicians and patients by requiring patient or surrogate consent prior to executing a DNR order.
State Senator Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth) and State Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) authored a bill modeled after a segment of PPACA that instructs administrators to avoid making treatment decisions based on a person’s disability, age, or terminal illness. Senate Bill 675/House Bill 1539 ensures that medical treatment is not withheld or withdrawn from a patient who is considered too ill, too old, or too disabled.
House Bill 1464, authored by Pro-Life Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), will afford patients ample time to transfer to a different care setting or to a different physician when the current physician and facility move to withdraw and deny medical treatment. These decisions are no longer based in medical science but on arbitrary quality of life judgments. Even if a patient is nearing the end of his life, no efforts should be made to speed his death by ending his medical treatment. HB 1464 would require the physician and facility to assist with such a transfer and to continue treating the patient until the transfer is completed.
Other bills have been filed that are wrongly being said to help patients and the disabled. However, other measures further jeopardize the disabled and further empower the hospitals to wield power over its subjects. The current Texas Advance Directives law and these fake reform bills rob the ailing and disabled of their civil liberties by giving power over their lives to an unelected body of hospital administrators and employees. While no medical treatment should be forced upon a patient, patient autonomy is only honored when a patient rejects treatment, not when he wants treatment.
Texas Right to Life’s legislative team is working day and night in the Capitol to protect the sanctity of innocent human life. Help Texas Right to Life protect you when you or loved one become ill or hospitalized! Support patient protections by letting your elected officials know that you want him/her to co-author and support these measures: HB 1455, HB 1464, and HB 1539/ SB 675.
Yours for Life,
Elizabeth Graham Director, Texas Right to Life