Dear Members of the Texas State Legislature:
We STILL oppose Committee Substitute Senate Bill 303.
As advocates for the defense of innocent human life, we are very concerned when "quality of life" judgments are imposed on those who cannot defend themselves – whether they be the unborn, the sick, the disabled, or the elderly. We are very thankful for physicians and health care providers who provide compassionate care and effective medical treatment for us and our loved ones. But sadly, the current law gives way too much power to doctors and hospitals, fostering opportunities for abuse. There is no question that abuses are occurring. The law needs to be fixed, and patients need safeguards.
CSSB 303 does not offer such safegaurds, nor does CSSB 303 improve the current law. The four criteria under which treatment can be withdrawn from "terminal" and "irreversible" patients in CSSB 303 are so broad and subjective that all hospitalized patients, conscious or otherwise, would meet one, some, or all of the criteria for denial of medical treatment. These loopholes allow and encourage value judgments on the lives of these ailing and disabled patients.
Remaining concerns regarding CSSB 303 include:
The DNAR notification process includes exceptions for notification (such as “incompetent” patients, when death is
"imminent," and when CPR would be "medically ineffective.") These terms are broad and undefined.
Food and water can still be withdrawn under CSSB 303.
Notice of the futility review is moved to 7 days, but only after a subcommittee meeting or a pre-meeting is held with the family. This subcommittee or pre-meeting is not subject to any of the rules for the required ethics committee meeting.
CSSB 303 is replete with the term "medically ineffective," which is left to the physician’s opinion.
Limiting the number of family members admitted to the ethics committee meeting heightens the inequality of an already imbalanced, intimidating process. The ethics committee of the treating hospital is not limited in attendance and is often comprised of more than a dozen experts affiliated with, if not paid by, that particular facility.
The reporting requirements in CSSB 303 will yield little insightful data regarding frequency, outcomes, transfer attempts, or the number of patients who died and at what point they died during the review or transfer process.
While recognizing the need to substantially reform the current Texas Advance Directive Law, we, the undersigned, urge the House of Representatives to oppose CSSB 303 in its current form. CSSB 303 would further jeopardize the lives of the disabled, the terminally ill, and the infirm who are hospitalized in Texas.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.
President, Texas Eagle Forum
Burke J. Balch, JD
Executive Director, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics
President, American Life League
Joseph Graham, Ph.D.
President and Founder, Texas Right to Life
Julie Grimstad, LPN
Chair, The Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance, a committee of Human Life Alliance
David E. Hargroder, MD
Chairman, John Paul II Bioethics Commission
President & Founder, Life Advocates
Steven F. Hotze, MD
President, Conservative Republicans of Texas
President, Texas Home School Coalition
Ron Panzer, LPN
President, Hospice Patients Alliance
President, Texas Leadership Coalition
International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Executive Director, Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network
Andy Schlafly, JD
General Counsel, Association of American Physicians & Surgeons
President, National Right to Life
Director, Human Life Alliance
Executive Director, US Pastor Council
President, Texans for Life Committee