Euthanizing Children

doctor holding a syringeEuthanasia 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Under Section 7, Section 166.046(e), artificially administered food and water can be withdrawn if the ethics committee decides that the treatment would: (3) “result in substantial irremediable physical pain or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. Doctors are completely immune from lawsuits resulting from DNR orders. (p.4 lines 5-11)
  4. 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
(512) 463-0600

Bobby Guerra
(512) 463-0578

Nicole Collier
(512) 463-0716

Sarah Davis
(512) 463-0389

Rep. Susan King, author of SB 303
(512) 463-0718

Rep. Garnet Coleman
(512) 463-0524

Rep. J.D. Sheffield
(512) 463-0628


  1. Scott Kemp says

    I am looking at the Texas Legislature’s website and have just read the text of SB 303.

    It is NOTHING like what you are describing here. It addresses people who commit fraud when filling out their paperwork at admittance, and allows the hospital to get a lien on their property.

    Is there something secret going on here? Or is it maybe not SB 303 but a different bill?

    Help me out here.

    • watchmen says

      It’s definitely not too late. The committee hasn’t voted the bill out yet because of the flood of calls that pro-life conservatives have made over the last 24 hours. So your calls have definitely been making a difference. The committee has until Saturday night to pass the bill, so we just need to keep the members informed for the next 78 hours.

  2. Kay Orr says

    Just wanted to share my thoughts on SB 303 and HB 1444, authored by Rep. Susan King. I spoke with Robyn in Susan King’s office earlier today as several of you have. I, like many, also shared my opinion as a mother, constituent and as a conservator for a mentally disabled adult (who is also affected by this bill). Basically, the portion of the bill I have an issue with is specifically related to the appeals process. As the bill reflects, should a physician decide that further care for my child would be harmful and that he would be better off to pass in his own time by issuing a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) he would have to let me know about it and put the order in writing in my child’s chart. DNAR’s actually happen alot now but the patient or patient’s family isn’t always privileged to the information. This bill would require the same physicians to be up front in telling the family they are placing a DNAR in the patient’s chart and then the family would have the opportunity to challenge his or her decision by means of a hospital ethics committee review. (Provided the physician chooses to abide by the law and let the family know.) The ethics committee is made up of a variety of professionals but many times includes hospital administrators…..ADMINISTRATORS. Should the ethics committee decide to find in favor of the physician’s decision to issue the DNAR, the family would then have no say in whether or not their child was resuscitated in the event their heart stopped or they stopped breathing. This would also include life sustaining nutrients like food and water in certain circumstances. If the family wishes, they may transfer their child to another facility within 14-21 days only after finding another physician willing to care for the child. I understand that there are times when a DNAR is in the best interest of the patient and that sometimes parents need help in making that decision. I also understand that I will not support any bill that gives a physician and hospital administrators the authority to override me in the direction and care of my own child. Not to mention the fact that physicians, although great in wisdom and I know many who are Godly and wise, are sometimes wrong and this bill removes the prospect of liability from the physician. Should a physician or administrator sitting on an ethics committee choose to side with a family against a DNAR the repercussions of that decision on a professional level could be a deterrent in voicing an opinion. In my opinion that would make the ethics committee somewhat unethical. Although I believe that Representative King is trying to clear some of the debri out of the existing law, I disagree…respectfully disagree….with the position that a hospital or a physician should be allowed to overstep my wishes with my own child. Everyone has the right to an opinion…this is mine.

  3. says

    What do you get if you put autonomy above “first do no harm,” or non-maleficence? You force a doctor to act against his conscience.

    You end up with doctors without consciences.

    • Susan Dedow says

      Is it against the doctor’s conscience to refer to a willing doctor?
      The patient’s or the patient family’s opinion should be valued, since it affects them much more than it does the doctor.

  4. Audra says

    omg the doctors should have every right to do that if it is legally dead anyways
    its not right that the parents be putting the poor children through the pain and suffering!!!!!! i am a mother and i would have had this done to my child if they had been that bad off so i will not sigh this stupid petition to make it not right for doctors to take suffering off children if they deem it not being able to be helped !!!

  5. says

    Please Read and Weep! This Law needs to go!!. Also here is the Response i got from State Senator Bob Deuell the Sponsor of the Law
    “State Senator Bob Deuell, MD What you are describing is CURRENT LAW, which SB303 is trying to fix. Your son has NO PROTECTION today without SB303. Please don’t believe the misinformation that has been put out about SB303.”