SB 2089 would force physicians and nurses to perform painful, medically inappropriate interventions indefinitely on terminally ill patients.
We need to stop the bill before that happens. SB 2089 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would set back the pro-life movement 20 years on end of life care.
“Hello, my name is (name). I live at (address). Please ask Speaker Bonnen to oppose SB 2089 because it will harm patients at the end of life. Thank you.”
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- Texas Patients Advocates — Texas Alliance for Life is part of a large coalition of organizations that advocate for patients, including prominent pro-life organizations, who oppose SB 2089. The coalition includes Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Coalitions of Texans with Disabilities, Texans for Life, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association, and the Catholic Health Association of Texas. Here is our joint statement in opposition to SB 2089: https://www.texasallianceforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/SB-2089-opposition-letter-4-30-19.pdf
- SB 2089 eliminates a successful dispute resolution process that has existed in state law for 20 years. That critical process is a key part of the Texas Advance Directives Act, signed into law by pro-life Governor George W. Bush in 1999 with the unanimous support of the pro-life community including Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life.
- The dispute resolution process encourages doctors and families to discuss medically appropriate treatments for a loved one at the end of life. The expectation and the practice under the law are that doctors should follow the wishes of patients and their families regarding medical interventions when the patient is near the end of life. For example, the law requires providing food and water if requested by the family or deemed medically appropriate by the physician. Also, doctors cannot issue a DNR without obtaining the consent of the patient or family.
- However, on very rare occasions, requested medically inappropriate interventions would harm the patient by causing great pain or suffering without benefit to the patient. Doctors and nurses are sometimes asked to do unspeakable things to patients by the family. Beckett Gremmels, Ph.D., System Director of Ethics for CHRISTUS Health, gave the following compelling testimony to the Senate:
In my experience as a clinical ethicist in over 1,000 ethics consults, they are made in response to patients who are harmed miserably and needlessly, whose death is prolonged due to unnecessary, inappropriate, and ineffective medical interventions which cause extreme pain and harm. We are not talking about life-prolonging medical interventions but death prolonging medical interventions. I have seen patients who took weeks, sometimes months, to die from illnesses that everyone agreed would unquestionably result in their death, only to have death prolonged and comfort care withheld due to requests from well-meaning, overburdened, grieving surrogate decision makers. I have seen and smelled many patients rot while still alive.
Even worse, I have seen death prolonged by a surrogate who was not well-meaning, who kept patients alive for their own benefit rather than thinking of the patient’s needs. Sometimes the benefit is financial, sometimes social, but mostly it is emotional. Respecting human dignity requires us to never treat human beings as objects or means to an end. Providing ineffective interventions for weeks without end that only serve to hurt patients for the benefit of a surrogate, or what is sometimes called “treating the family,” uses patients as objects and undermines their inherent dignity as beings made in God’s image.
In rare circumstances like those described above, the current law has a dispute resolution process requiring the doctor to find an alternate provider and assist in transferring the patient. In one prominent case in Houston, a hospital contacted more than 60 alternate ICU providers for a terminally ill patient. SB 2089 eliminates that process, thereby harming patients.