Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief on January 17, defending the Right to Life of 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis and arguing that the 10-Day Rule (the Texas Advance Directives Act) robs hospitalized patients of their constitutional rights.
In the 24-page brief, the two Texas leaders opined, “The statute leads to the denial of constitutionally protected interests – the right to life and right to determine one’s medical treatment.” (page 9-10)
Abbott and Paxton’s condemnation of the current law emphasizes the need to eliminate the countdown placed on the lives of vulnerable patients, the position which Texas Right to Life has been advocating for over a decade.
Under Texas’ 10-Day Rule found in the Texas Advance Directive Act, a hospital committee is authorized to prematurely end the life of a patient, overriding a patient or family’s decision or advanced directive about life-sustaining treatment. After the hospital committee makes this decision, the family or patient has only 10 calendar days to find another facility willing to treat them. At the end of the countdown, the hospital is sheilded with complete legal immunity to withdraw basic wanted treatment such as a ventilator.
In their objection to the law, Abbott and Paxton iterate that any countdown like the one in Texas law would cut patients’ lives short against their will.
“When a patient has requested life-sustaining treatment, only to have it denied by a physician or health care facility, the physician and health care facility are denying the patient life for the period of time that he or she would have lived had the life-sustaining treatment been provided.” (Page 10)
Abbott and Paxton’s robust rebuke of the Texas Advance Directives Act signals their commitment to all in their respective power to eliminate the countdown imposed on vulnerable patients. Current law is unconstitutional, unethical, and unprecedented. Texas must adopt a more protective state policy similar to how 11 other states currently handle conflicts between patients and physicians—the model that fosters collaboration in transferring a patient to another physician or facility, rather than resulting in a standoff that speeds the patient’s death.
Texas Right to Life is thankful for Abbott and Paxton’s stand for Baby Tinslee. Texas Right to Life looks forward to continuing partnership with our governor and attorney general to protect Tinslee and to end this anti-Life policy.