Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve “pain and suffering.” SB 303 takes another step toward legalizing euthanasia by legally empowering doctors to decide when to place Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders into the medical files of suffering, sick children. Only a panel of doctors could remove the order.
The bill also enables doctors to decide when to remove life-sustaining treatment for sick children who are suffering through so much pain. Only families should make these critical end-of-life decisions.
Under Section 7, Section 166.046(e), artificially administered food and water can be withdrawn if the ethics committee decides that the treatment would: (3) “result in substantial irremediable physical pain or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment.”
I. Status of the bill:
At the hearing on May 13, there was overwhelming opposition to SB 303 from the pro-life community. Although six times as many people came in opposition to the bill, the committee members are still poised to vote the bill through the committee on Wednesday, May 15.
UPDATE: Chairman Lois Kolkhorst is standing bravely against this abridgment of parental rights. If the chairman can continue to withstand political pressure until Saturday, May 18, then the bill will be dead. YOUR CALLS are making a difference!
Our best hope is to stop SB 303 now. The bill passed the Senate 24 – 6. If it passes the House committee, the bill is only one step away from becoming Texas law.
II. Intent of the bill:
SB 303 intends to protect patients by eliminating ambiguity about “secret DNR” orders, among other things. Current law is silent as to whether doctors can issue in-hospital DNR orders. Therefore, certain doctors have taken the liberty to issue “secret DNR” orders without informing the parents of the patients of this decision. We do not condone this behavior and would like to see it eliminated.
This bill attempts to eliminate such “secret DNR” orders. The bill takes a step forward by requiring that doctors inform most patients when a DNR order has been placed in their file. (Section 166.012 (c), page 2 lines 14-18)
However, SB 303 affords inadequate protection for the most vulnerable patients. Doctors are not required to inform patients whose deaths are considered “imminent” that a DNR order has been placed. (Section 166.012 (g), page 3 lines 15-21)
III. Problems with the bill:
The bill takes a shuffling step forward by trampling parental rights. We believe that a true solution will not usurp the authority of the family in the process.
- Doctors are empowered to issue a DNR order against the desires of the patient and the patient’s family. (Section 166.012 (c), page 2 lines 14-18)
- Only doctors can remove the DNR. Families can only appeal the death sentence to an “ethics committee” of doctors. Families, not doctors, should have the ultimate authority to remove DNR orders. (Section 166.012 (e), page 2 lines 25-27 – line 2 of page 3)
- Doctors are completely immune from lawsuits resulting from DNR orders. (p.4 lines 5-11)
- Doctors do not have to inform the patients whose death is “imminent” despite resuscitation of a DNR order being placed in their file. (Section 166.012 (g), page 3 lines 15-24)
We spoke with the house author, Representative Susan King, who told us that when a doctor and parents disagreed about the care of a sick child, the doctor’s opinion should prevail. In the words of Representative King, doctors practice “medicine based on their best judgment for the patient. So that’s the whole crux of this. If the physician believes that this in the best judgment of the patient and the family says ‘no, you’ll do what we say’” doctors should be able to contravene the opinion of families.
SB 303 is more concerned with upholding the medical judgment of doctors than with preserving the lives of sick children.
IV. Call Now: Oppose Doctor Death Sentences:
Your call will make the difference between the life and death of sick children. Doctors should not have the legal authority to place death orders in the files of sick children.
SB 303 would bring Terri Schiavo’s story to Texas. According to Terri Schiavo’s brother, SB 303 empowers doctors to arbitrarily decide if the patient’s continued “quality of life” justifies the continued use of life-sustaining treatment.
Chair: Lois Kolkhorst
Rep. Susan King, author of SB 303
Rep. Garnet Coleman
Rep. J.D. Sheffield