SB 303: Doctors of Death

SB 303 empowers doctors to place “Do Not Resuscitate” orders in the files of sickly children and the elderly without their consent. No one, not even the patient or a member of his family can remove this death sentence. No one, that is, except a panel of doctors.

We spoke to Susan King, the House author of SB 303, who said that hospitals have better judgment than parents as to whether their child should continue to receive life-support treatment. This bill takes away the parents’ authority to make important healthcare decisions for their child and gives that authority to a doctor.

SB 303 grants doctors complete immunity from lawsuits from DNRs. Legal liability for DNR orders would hold the doctor responsible for their actions. Removing liability removes accountability.

Doesn’t the bill require notification before a DNR order is placed?
Doctors must give notification of a DNR order unless the patient’s death is considered “imminent,” but notification is not consent. Even if the doctor notifies the parent of the DNR, the parent can do NOTHING.

Can the hospital still remove artificially administered food and water?
Yes. SB 303 allows doctors to remove the artificially administered nutrition and hydration from a sick patient if the treatments: [Section 166.046(e)]

  1. Hasten the patient’s death,
  2. “Exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment,”
  3. “Result in substantial irremediable physical pain or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment,” or
  4. Are “Be medically ineffective in prolonging the patient’s life.”

Only the child’s family should have the authority to decide whether to withdraw the life-sustaining nutrition.

Are there beneficial aspects to the bill?
As with many controversial bills, SB 303 contains both positive and negative elements. For instance, the bill requires that a doctor give notice of a DNR order. Additionally, the bill extends the time that a patient has to transfer hospitals before life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. Currently, a family has 10 days to transfer their child to another hospital. SB 303 extends the time clock to 21 days. However, the Texas Right to Life has helped 80 families through the transfer process and very few can complete the transfer process within 21 days.

Contact your Representative in opposition to this hospital euthanasia bill. Doctors should not have the power to issue death sentences in the form of Do Not Resuscitate orders against the will of the patient and the patient’s family.

For a comprehensive comparison of the bill with the current law, see: http://goo.gl/irwgF

TAKE ACTION:

The bill passed the Senate and will receive a hearing in the house committee on Monday, May 13, 2013. Please contact the following committee members in opposition to the bill:

Chair: Lois Kolkhorst
(512) 463-0600

Vice Chair: Elliot Naishtat
(512) 463-0668

Garnet Coleman
(512) 463-0524

Nicole Collier
(512) 463-0716

Philip Cortez
(512) 463-0269

Sarah Davis
(512) 463-0389

Bobby Guerra
(512) 463-0578

Susan King
(512) 463-0718

Jodie Laubenberg
(512) 463-0186

J.D. Sheffield
(512) 463-0628

Bill Zedler
(512) 463-0374

Ben Snodgrass – has written 4 posts on this site.
We want to welcome Ben Snodgrass. Ben is a 20-year-old junior at Patrick Henry College where he is working to obtain a degree in government with an emphasis in economics. While he was still in high school, Ben served as a part-time intern at the Liberty Institute and at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. In his free time, he competes in British Parliamentary debate, plays his violin, reads the classics, and memorizes Scripture.

17 Comments on “SB 303: Doctors of Death”

  1. You are promoting patient autonomy beyond the traditional medical ethic of non-maleficence or “Cure when possible, but first do no harm.”

    The doctor is the one whose hands, conscience and medical judgment will be writing the orders for or actually carrying out the resuscitation. He or she will be the one who declares time of death if the resuscitation fails.

    • Doctors are not gods. People, parents, should have a say. Starvation and dehydration are horrible ways to die. You make me sick.

      • Starvation and dehydration are horrible ways to die. But doctor Kevorkian, set the example that our society will not tolerate humanely ending suffering.

    • Home School Family

      Mr. Snodgrass clearly does not understand this proposed bill. It simply aims to modify the existing health code in Texas as it pertains to Advanced Directives. Sec. 166.012 requires that patients and legal guardians are informed of DNRs placed in the file according to an Advanced Directive. It’s a good thing, and absolutely does not give a doctor or facility the ability to freely issue a DNR. I am extremely disappointed in THSC for allowing this gross misinformation to be published and advocated by trusting members.

      • THSC is one of many groups sounding the alarm on this bill. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has also pointed to a long list of problems with this bill and you can read them here and here. This is a bad bill and should be defeated!

  2. Roberta Walker

    This bill would just be wrong on the most fundamental standing. God gave these children to their parents and families, NOT Doctors
    Please stop this bill from passing.

  3. Shocked that Texans would elect monsters who think this is a good idea, and that Texans would stand by and watch this immoral legislation pass. What is happening to this nation?

  4. I thought it was strange that REPUBLICAN representative Susan King would sponsor such a bill, so I did some digging. Really, Ben Snodgrass? Did you actually read the whole bill or did you just pick up erroneous info from somewhere and copy/paste?
    http://www.texasallianceforlife.org/
    http://www.southtexascatholic.com/index.cfm?load=news&newsarticle=1172
    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: http://txcatholic.org/images/docs/20130507_SB_303_Bishops_Ltr.pdf

    • Ben Snodgrass

      Thank you for taking your time to voice your concern. We appreciate the input!

      SB 303 is an issue which has divided various conservative and pro-life organizations. Numerous conservative organizations such as the Texas Right to Life, the Texas Eagle Forum, and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network oppose Senate Bill 303. At the same time, both the Texas Alliance for Life and the Catholic Bishops organization approve the bill. Here is a list of some of the pro-life organizations that oppose the bill: http://www.texasrighttolife.com/a/1038/State-and-national-ProLife-leaders-oppose-Senate-Bill-303

      The Texas Home School Coalition has thoroughly analyzed the entire bill and decidedly opposes the measure.

      What has caused the division? As I mentioned previously, there are beneficial aspects of the bill. For instance, the current law is silent as to whether or not doctors can issue In-Hospital “Do Not Resuscitate Orders.” Therefore, certain doctors have taken the liberty to issue “secret DNR orders” without informing the parents of the decision. We do not condone this behavior. We do believe that a bill that seeks to fix this problem should not usurp the authority of the family in the process.

      The bill does take a step forward in protecting patients by requiring that doctors inform patients whose deaths are not “imminent” when do no resuscitate orders are put into place. (Section 166.012 (c), page 2 lines 14-18)

      The bill takes that step forward by sacrificing parental rights.

      There are three primary problems with the bill:

      1. Doctors, not families are given the final authority to issue a DNR order. (Section 166.012 (c), page 2 lines 14-18)

      2. Families cannot remove the DNR. They can only appeal to an “ethics committee.” Only this committee of doctors can actually remove the order.

      “If the patient or surrogate disagrees with the DNAR [Do Not Attempt Resuscitation] order being placed in or removed from the medical record, the patient or surrogate may request in writing and is entitled to a consultation or a review of the disagreement by the ethics or medical committee” (Section 166.012 (e), page 2 lines 25-27 – line 2 of page 3)

      3. Doctors do not have to inform the sickliest patients of a DNR order.

      “Subsection (c) does not apply to a DNAR order placed in the medical record of a patient:
      1) whose death, based on reasonable medical judgment, is imminent despite attempted resuscitation;
      2) for whom, based on reasonable medical judgment, resuscitation would be medically ineffective and there is insufficient time to contact the surrogate” (Section 166.012 (g), page 3 lines 15-24)

      4. SB 303 also contains much subjective language, which gives far too much leeway to the doctor, hospital, and medical committee to make end-of-life decisions.

      For example, the bill clearly specifies that a doctor mustn’t inform the families of patients whose death are either “imminent,” and also for whom “resuscitation would be medically ineffective.” “Imminent” is completely undefined. (lines 15-24 of page 3)

      Ultimately, THSC believes that doctors should not make “quality of life judgments”, but that they should make “clinical medical judgments”, leaving the “quality of life judgments” to the family. We believe that the parents and family should have the final say in end-of-life-decisions.

      The bill empowers doctors to place DNR orders against the wishes of the family. We oppose that concept.

      • The bill also exempts doctors from liability for these decisions. So they make end-of-life decisions the parents or family can not override and have no accountability for any wrong decisions they make.

  5. Only God……….has the right to decide when our time is up……….. this is the same as murder!!

  6. It is very scary when Doctors are given complete immunity and power to play God with somebody else’s life. The love and compassion one may have for a very sick parent or child is not felt by the doctor.

    In my own experience, my son was declared brain dead after having a brain hemmorrage at 16 days old. We were told there was nothing to be done, and he needed to be removed from life support.
    As a young 22 year old mother, who didn’t know much, I knew that even with adults a little time was given before such a drastic measure.

    The brain activity tests were conclusive. He was brain dead, after we waited one extra week at my own request.

    He was removed from life support and the rocking chair was brought over. We were to cuddle our sweet angel until he entered into eternity.
    We were told this wouldn’t take very long.
    After several hours, it didn’t happen. After 24 hours, he was put back on oxygen, not life support.
    We were then told, put him in a home, go home and have a life. Have more children. etc.

    2 months later, our son came home weighing 7 lbs. He had dropped from 5 lbs to 2 lbs. 14 oz. and when we asked about his weight loss they said, “Oh, you want us to feed him?”
    I believe they thought we were stupid and were going to try and kill him.

    Well, our brain dead son is now a college graduate and works as a teacher in Special Education in Plano Texas.

    I am so glad we didn’t listen to them.

    • Law enforcement officer have the power to murder both the righteous and the wicked. The average LEO has far less education and training than a doctor.

  7. I talked to the person who answers for the Committee Chair.
    I shared our story, and then I followed up with this email.
    I sure hope this helps.
    Regarding Bill SB303:

    http://minichfamilyblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/in-honor-to-lord-for-my-tim.html

    I posted the main post that I wanted you to see up above. There are 40 posts on Timothy on my blog.
    If you want to see more, you can scroll down the left side to labels and click on Timothy.
    That will cause them to pop up.

    As you can see I am a blogger. Had it not been for our experience with Tim, I don’t believe our girls would be with us today. They were all adopted. Two of them with very special physical needs. We wouldn’t have been brave enough. But Timothy taught us about life. Real life. It isn’t about being perfect, or smart, or funny or beautiful or handsome. It is about love…. loving and being loved.
    Both of our special needs girls are from Ukraine, and it was decided, by doctors, they should die, because of those needs.

    In Ukraine, a doctor determines if you are worthy of life. A doctor decides if you are worthy to be in society. My Erika and Sarah were both determined to be unworthy and were left in “laying rooms”, but really dying rooms, and they survived. Miraculously survived.
    Erika was in a crib rocking back and forth for 4 long years with no affection, and was quite mistreated. Sarah the same.
    Had we not brought them into our lives, they would be in mental institutions in Ukraine, locked away forever with no opportunity to get out.
    They are beautiful and smart, and have full lives ahead of them.
    But somebody thought this wasn’t possible for three of my children when they were babies.

    Today they are thriving teenagers who also plan to attend college just like their older brothers.
    Somebody thought they were not worth the effort to feed and love, but I promise you, that God does not make junk.
    And our lives are rich and full because of the blessing it is to raise children, even children with special needs.

    Please give my heart felt disapproval for SB303. It truly is not what Texas needs!

    Sincerely,

    Christie Minich

  8. In what way does allowing the current law to remain unchanged serve the interests of Texans?

    • The bill would make the current situation worse. SB 303 died on Friday night due to the overwhelming opposition.

    • Ben Snodgrass

      Matt, the current law does not set a definite policy on DNR orders. Thus, when doctors issue DNR orders, they are acting within the realm of legal ambiguity. The bill would codify the ability of doctors to issue DNR orders without liability.

      The current situation is far from perfect, but SB 303 would have undercut parental rights. As a final note, SB 303 died on May 18.

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