Families Victimized by 10-Day Rule Plead with Texas Senate Committee to Change Texas Advance Directives Act

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AUSTIN — The Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony on Senate Bill 2089 by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) on Wednesday.  This priority Pro-Life bill would repeal the anti-Life 10-Day Rule, which allows hospitals to pull the plug on patients against their will.

 

Family after family pleaded with the committee to end the 10-Day Rule, sharing hours of testimony of their loved ones being hastened to their deaths against their will.  Evelyn Kelley, Bonita Davis, Steve Oates, Diana Rountree, Stephanie Dye, Sandra Hollier, and many more courageously shared the tragic sagas of their hospitalized family members attacked by the 10-day countdown.  Evelyn spoke passionately of her son Chris Dunn whose life she successfully protected after being notified that Chris’s care would be forcibly withdrawn two days before Thanksgiving. Sandra recounted that while the health of her 4-year-old son, Clifton, had improved, his ventilator was still removed despite her protests, and Clifton suffocated to death, dying in her arms.  Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo, reminded the committee how Terri was treated unethically and inhumanely. Bobby also shared with the committee that the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network fields calls from families in Texas who are facing the 10-day countdown and asked the committee to reform the law.

 

Several legal and bioethical experts underscored the personal stories shared with the committee.  Wesley J. Smith, Esq., a world-renowned bioethicist, lawyer, and author, explained how the 10-day countdown violates human rights and principles of bioethics.  Emily Cook, patient advocate and General Counsel for Texas Right to Life, testified on how the 10-day provision starves the patients of due process rights. The Office of the Texas Attorney General focused on the amicus brief filed in Dunn v. Methodist, articulating the denial of due process rights for hospitalized patients enshrined in the Texas Advance Directives Act.

 

Overwhelmingly, Texans supporting patients’ rights outnumbered 9-1 the attorneys and lobbyists in opposition.  During the hearing, senators observed most of the opposition came from the medical lobby, while the push for change came from the perspective of victims and patient advocates, clearly showcasing the urgent need for immediate reform in order to restore the balance of power to the current unjust process.

 

Texas Right to Life thanks Senator Bryan Hughes for introducing this bill in the 86th Texas Legislature.  Additionally, we thank Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), no stranger to this issue, for spending the entire day at the hearing and extending grace and compassion to hundreds of witnesses with heart-wrenching stories of injustice at Texas hospitals.  We look forward to the favorable passage of SB 2089 out of the committee soon and the subsequent vote on the Senate floor.

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