I’ve sat on this for 4 days, hoping for a response to the questions I sent to 2 of the ‘co-founders” and an editor of the website. (They only use those online forms, so I can’t follow up by email.)
So far, no response from any of the 3.
I’m not going to link to the website, but the address is in the photo.
Unfortunately, the division in the Texas prolife community is deep. The article I attempted to comment on quotes – and disputes – an article I wrote for Texas Alliance for Life a few years ago.
All I wanted to say was that I hope the readers will read that article.
Praying for peace.
(BTW, that case ruling came down in favor of Houston’s Methodist Hospital and the Texas First Court of Appeals refused to declare the Texas Advance Directive Act unconstitutional.)
An opponent of SB 303 and I have been discussing the Bill on an earlier post. She referred to my “list of endorsements.” This is a fairly strong list of endorsements, at least for those of us who are believers, don’t you think?
The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission is ” is pleased that SB 303 was recently voted out of the senate.”
Texas Catholic Bishops letter to members of the Texas House of Representatives urging support for SB 303
The Morality and Wisdom of Incremental Legislation: The Case for SB 303 by Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D.
Texas Catholics Bishops Conference been very active over in the many efforts over the years to reform of the Texas Advance Directive Act and all have signed the endorsement strongly urging passage of SB303 http://www.txcatholic.org/press-releases/336-texas-catholic-bishops-strongly-urge-house-vote-on-end-of-life-care.
I’ve relied on the National Catholic Bioethics Center ( Marie Hilliard and Father Tad) for their consistent and coherent efforts to preserve traditional medical ethics. NCBC has also endorsed the Bill, and written an excellent response to criticism of SB303.
Added 5/11/13 at 11:00 AM, more endorsements and information:
The opponents of Senate Bill 303 may not realize it, but they are promoting the very thing they claim to oppose: elevating the patient’s right to determine his own care above the doctor’s conscience will result in doctors who practice medicine without consciences.
The consequences of elevating autonomy above non-maleficence (“first do not harm”) go to the very heart of medical ethics. In fact, the promotion of patient autonomy is the common justification for euthanasia and elective abortion on demand.
The doctor is the one whose hands, conscience, and medical judgment will be writing the orders for or actually carrying out the resuscitation. Just as it’s not ethical to force doctors to cause the death of patients, it’s not ethical to demand that doctors write orders and perform interventions when their medical judgment indicates that the intervention will not be successful and will increase pain and suffering while prolonging the process of death.
As ethicist Gilbert Meilaendar noted at the President’s Bioethics Council Meeting in September 12, 2008,
[T]he reason for a physician being willing to risk his life in an epidemic was precisely that he didn’t think staying alive was the most important thing, that there was something else that was morally more compelling and obligatory even than preserving his existence. And that would have something to do with the personal integrity that you seem willing to think may be — one should be willing to set aside in embracing what one thinks is evil.
Here’s an excellent professional article about end of life care for patients that’s relevant to our discussion about SB 303.
Two Roads to Death
Two major pathways to death have been described: The easy and the difficult road Figure 1. Depending on the road a patient takes, the intensity of ED management may vary significantly. For instance, some patients are highly symptomatic at the EOL, requiring intravenous medications and even continuous drips to maintain comfort while others can be managed by relatively simple oral regimens in the home setting, with the support of hospice services.For symptoms like pain, the EM skill set proves sufficient as the management of healthy patients and those at the EOL is similar. EM treatment algorithms are less relevant, however, for symptoms like dehydration, delirium and dyspnea in the dying patient. For this reason, we will focus our attention on the unique approach to these common and often troublesome EOL issues.
Texas Senate Passes Pro-Life SB 303 to Help FamiliesProtect Loved Ones Near the End of LifeLt. Governor David Dewhurst and Sen. Donna Campbell M.D. Deserve Thanks!April 24, 2013Dear Larry and Beverly:Very good news! Last week the Texas Senate passed SB 303, a strong pro-life bill that will change current law to help families protect their loved ones near the end of life. Supported by pro-life Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and authored by Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville), the full Senate passed SB 303 on a decisive 24-6 vote.Your Texas state senator, Sen. Donna Campbell M.D., voted to support SB 303, a pro-life vote. Please thank Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Sen. Campbell for their support. See sample messages below.SB 303 is strongly supported by broad coalition of pro-life and provider organizations including Texas Alliance for Life, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, and the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.Voting for SB 303 were: Campbell, Carona, Davis, Deuell, Duncan, Ellis, Eltife, Estes, Fraser, Garcia, Hinojosa, Huffman, Lucio, Nelson, Nichols, Rodriguez, Schwertner, Seliger, Uresti, Van de Putte, Watson, West, Whitmire, and Zaffirini.Voting against SB 303 were: Hancock, Hegar, Patrick, Paxton, Taylor, and Williams. Senator Brian Birdwell was absent.
Prevents secret DNAR orders (“Do Not Attempt Resuscitation”). Current law allows doctors to order DNARs without even notifying the patient or family.
Prevents the involuntary denial of food and water, except in extreme circumstances when the treatment would harm the patient or hasten his or her death.
Increases the time of the dispute resolution process from 12 to 28 days when a family and patient disagree about appropriate end of life care.
Significantly limits the class of patients to whom the dispute resolution process can be applied.
Requires doctors and hospitals to treat all patients “equally without regard to permanent physical or mental disabilities, age, gender, religion, ethnic background, or financial or insurance status.”
Preserves conscience protections so physicians are not required to provide futile or harmful procedures indefinitely.
A great deal of false and misleading information about SB 303 has been spread by several groups, especially by one group in particular that is based in Houston. In response, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a strongly-worded letter to set the record straight. Please see this: http://txcatholic.org/news/327-misstatements-against-end-of-life-care-reform-corrected-in-letter-to-lawmakers
See my earlier post about the rebuke TRTL received from the Texas Catholic Bishops Conference. – http://wp.me/p1FiCk-XW – and an even earlier explanation (long winded, I’m afraid) – http://wp.me/p1FiCk-Wb
Edited 4/27/13 to add that last paragraph – BBN
Using words such as “egregious,” “cynical,” “outrageous,” and “deceive,” the Texas Catholic Bishops Conference have published the letter that they sent to Texas Legislators concerning the actions of Texas Right to Life concerning Senate Bill 303 and its companion, House Bill 1444 on April 15, 2013.
Since employees and representatives of TRL continue to “stoke fear through ridiculous claims,” (and to harass those who support the Bills) here’s the letter (I’ve reproduced the emphasis is in the original):
The Texas Catholic Conference is compelled to publicly correct the misstatements and fabrications that continue to be perpetuated by the Texas Right to Life organization against legislation to improve end-of-life care by reforming the Texas Advance Directives Act.
It has been said that all is fair in love, war and Texas politics. However, the actions of Texas Right to Life have been so egregious and cynical, especially when comes to misrepresenting the moral and theological doctrine of the Catholic Church, that the TCC cannot stay silent.
Texas’ Advance Directives Act needs reform. Current law lacks clarity given the complexity of end-of-life care, contains definitions that could permit the withdrawal of care for patients – including food and water – and permits unilateral Do Not Resuscitate Orders without the permission of, or even consultation with, the family.
Senate Bill 303 and House Bill 1444 are based on Catholic moral principles and reasonable medical standards for defending human life and protecting the conscience of both families and physicians. Both billsprevent unilateral DNRs, improve communication between medical providers and families, ensure a clear and balanced process for resolving differences, and give families the right to challenge Do Not Resuscitate Orders before a medical ethics committee.
In both its materials and communications with legislative offices and staff, Texas Right to Life has tried to stoke fear through ridiculous claims of nonexistent “death panels” and assertions that doctors are “secretly trying to kill patients.” Both claims are absurd. The truth is, many factors are involved in the sausage-grinding process of public policymaking. Some have less to do with making good laws and more about individual personalities and fundraising opportunities of organizations.
It is outrageous that an organization purportedly committed to the rights and dignity of life would resort to such disingenuous tactics that deceive honest and caring people. What is worse is doing so in a way that perpetuates current law and may cause unnecessary patient suffering.
Texas Right to Life has no authority to articulate Catholic moral teaching, and certainly does not have permission to represent the views of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at the Texas Catholic Conference. We are more than happy to answer any questions or provide the Texas Catholic Bishops’ position on any issue before the Legislature.
(Edited for spelling and grammar, 4/25/13 BBN)
Laws relating to ethics debates are generally behind medical advances. This is good because it means that there *are* medical advances.
However, the debates often become emotional and heated, and the individuals who are affected face real dilemmas and emergencies. When law-making is controversial, it’s best to go back to the basics of ethics for guidance: the inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” the Declaration of Independence, and Constitution.
All laws limit our rights, but good laws strike a balance between seemingly conflicting rights: they are meant to prevent one person from harming another. Most laws prohibit or punish harmful actions, they don’t *compel* a desired action against our will. Nor do they prohibit actions based on thoughts and opinion. In other words, laws prohibit harming or taking from another, but they usually don’t make you protect, nurture or give to another.
However,since the right to life trumps the right to liberty and property, there are very rare circumstances when it is appropriate for laws to compel individuals to act for the benefit of another. Parents are required to care for and protect their minor children. Doctors and lawyers must be licensed, obtain certain levels of education, and follow specific, positive actions when they wish to withdraw from a professional relationship with a patient or client. These laws should only go so far as to protect the life and safety of the vulnerable, for a limited time with the goal of allowing safe transfer of the obligation of the person with more power to someone else.
On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, under Chair Senator Jane Nelson, heard testimony on two Bills that would change TADA: SB 303 from Senator (Dr.) Bob Duell’s and SB 675 by Senator Kelly Hancock.
The Texas Advance Directive Act of 1999 (TADA), in addition to describing “Advance Directives to Physicians” (a “Living Will), was an attempt to outline the procedure for resolving the disagreement between a doctor and patients or their surrogates regarding end of life care.
When I first read the Act, I (naively) thought it was malpractice protection for doctors who did not want to withdraw or withhold care, such as the Houston Methodist Hospital doctors who invoked the act when they repaired Dr. Michael Debakey’s aortic aneurysm against his previously stated wishes – http://www.theheart.org/article/762619.do – in 2006.
Most of the time, however, TADA is invoked in cases when the attending physician disagrees with a request to actively administer medical treatment that he or she believes is medically inappropriate. The steps laid out in the law involve the doctor’s notification of the patient or the surrogate, rules for assisting with transfer of care to another doctor who believes the treatment request is appropriate, and convening an ethics committee at the hospital. If there is no other willing doctor can be found and the ethics committee agrees with the doctor, the treatment can be withheld or withdrawn. It does not allow patients to be killed by medicines.
Unfortunately, the Act has become known as the “Texas Futile Care Law,” and divides even the pro-life community. One side says doctors and hospitals have too much power and are killing people. While I’ve heard horror stories about doctors who have abused or broken the law, I maintain that there is no “Futile Care Law,” only a difference of opinion as to who should decide what is medically appropriate treatment. In the few cases that have come under the Act, patients and their advocates report trouble finding other doctors willing to provide the treatment the first doctor thought was inappropriate. In my opinion, that difficulty is due to physicians’ common education and shared experiences.
Although TADA lays out requirements for hospitals and hospital medical ethics committees, the fact is that it applies to the “attending physician” who could be forced to act against his conscience. Texas law is clear that only doctors may practice medicine by diagnosing and treating patients directly or “ordering” other medical personnel. These treatments are not one-time events and they aren’t without consequences. They are interventions that must be monitored by observation and tests, and adjustments need to be made so that the treatment is effective and not harmful. Medical judgment is how doctors utilize our education, experience, and consciences as we plan and anticipate the effect of each medical intervention.
Senator Duell’s Bill, SB 303, significantly improves TADA. Among other things, the Bill would add protection of the patient’s right to artificially administered hydration and nutrition, increased access to assistance, records, and time before and after the ethics committee meeting, and prohibits so-called “secret DNR’s.”
Senator Hancock’s Bill, SB 675, focuses on the intentions and motives of the doctor, requiring the medical committee to decide whether the disagreement is due to: “(1) the lesser value the physician, facility, or professional places on extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill patient compared to the value of extending the life of a patient who is younger, not disabled, or not terminally ill; or “(2) a disagreement between the physician, facility, or professional and the patient, or the person authorized to make a treatment decision for the patient under Section 166.039, over the greater weight the patient or person places on extending the patient ’s life above the risk of disability.”
Our laws normally prohibit actions and only very rarely compel people to act. Under the conditions laid out in SB 303, the doctor can be forced to act against his conscience and best medical judgment, but only for a limited, stated time. SB 303 improves the Texas Advance Directive Act by protecting the patient’s access to artificially administered hydration and nutrition. It also adds time to prepare for the ethics committee meeting and to transfer care a new doctor. It is an attempt to balance the patient’s wishes for medical intervention with the right of conscience of the doctor. In contrast, SB 675 would attempt to legislate intentions or thoughts, with none of the added protections of SB 303.
Edited 4/27/13 to fix the link to the article about Dr. Debakey and 4/30/13 for grammar and formatting – BBN.