Governor Perry remarked in a conference call with Texas Right to Life PAC this week that he is “disappointed” that the Legislature has failed to reform a law that allows doctors and hospitals to withdraw life-sustaining treatment like food and water from ailing Texans.
When asked by Elizabeth Graham, Director of Texas Right to Life, why Texas lawmakers have been unable to pass measures that would stop or regulate the hospital death panels enshrined in the Texas Advance Directives Act, Governor Perry said, “Obviously, this has been one of the disappointments I’ve had during my years working with the legislature since we must reject putting a price tag on human lives.”
The Advance Directives Act, as is, provides the framework for rampant abuse. Death panels, or “ethics committees,” do not report to the Department of State Health Services, and there is no formal method of patient appeals.
Currently, a doctor who no longer wishes to treat a patient can convene a hospital’s ethics committee to review his decision to stop all medical treatment. Generally, the committee, staffed by the doctor’s own colleagues and fiscally-minded hospital administrators, will rubber stamp these decisions and send the patient packing, regardless of the patient’s previously stated wishes, his family’s wishes, and even his ability to pay.
The patient is then allotted a mere 10 days to transfer to another facility or risk losing all medical treatment – including basic care like food, water, and any assistance with breathing– on that 10thday. Most often, the patient and his family are unable to find alternative care on their own within that short period of time, and the patient’s death is unnaturally hastened by the withdrawal of treatment.
Pro-Life legislators have proposed several reforms since the Act became law, including the time in which patients can transfer, expanding the 10-day countdown, requiring hospitals to treat patients until the patients find alternative care, and requiring hospitals to report non-identifying information about their ethics committee activities to the state. Yet due to misrepresentation and plain lies by the medical lobby, all reform efforts have failed.
However, Governor Perry said that reform is possible if Pro-Life voters elect strong advocates for Life.
“Being able to get people from both sides of the aisle to work together for the most vulnerable is one of the most important things we have to do. We’ve really got to push, and that’s why these elections are so important,” said Perry.