Last Friday, two poignant reminders arose about why Texas Right to Life must remain vigilant in the battle to protect all innocent human life. While travelling for a speech in Montgomery County, two very different situations, both involving life and death, showed me how ambiguous laws and loopholes impact the lives of real people, real families, real human lives.
A young man in his thirties, conscious, was admitted to a hospital Thursday night. A Do-Not-Resuscitate Order was issued on his behalf WITHOUT his consent, nor the consent of his wife or other family. The patient’s sister explained that her brother had suffered from a congenital illness, and as a result, was very familiar with the machinations of hospital settings. Throughout his life, her brother had never succumbed to his illness, always fighting to live. The man’s wife unsuccessfully pleaded all night with the medical team to remove the unauthorized DNR Order. To do so, she was told, according to hospital policy, the patient himself must sign the revocation in the presence of two witnesses who were not affiliated with the hospital. Thus, the burden of removing an unwanted DNR Order from the patient was more onerous than hospital personnel secretly issuing one in the first place. Only after the wife taped the revocation on the door to her husband’s room and continued to object to the DNR Order did medical and hospital personnel apologize for issuing an unauthorized DNR order. Shockingly, the patient still had to jump through the revocation hoops even though the hospital should have been doing the revoking, not the patient or his family.
Secondly, a friend and ally called with some questions about the judicial process by which minors petition courts for abortion to avoid parental involvement. I could hardly believe the words coming through the phone—as if the weekend wasn’t already coming slowly enough. A judicial bypass had been granted in a rural county on the basis of the contents of a simple envelope. Apparently, some note or form was printed at the time of the bypass petition, inserted into an envelope, and delivered to the granting judge. Some employees at the courthouse observed this troubling occurrence and called, dismayed and disappointed that state law tied their hands. The employees were stunned to learn that state law offered no way for them, who, as employees of the court, felt somewhat responsible for the pregnant minor, to truly assess whether involving her parents was a good idea for a young, abortion-vulnerable, pregnant girl.
Some of our detractors will decry this post due to lack of identifying information as far as the hospital and the court. So be it, but I couldn’t make these stories up if I wanted to do so. Sadly, at Texas Right to Life, the trail of real human suffering and carnage from abortion clinics and hospitals is long enough that we don’t have to imagine or fabricate nightmares. The list of witnesses in favor of reforms to the Texas Advance Directive Law outnumbers the status-quo folks 4 to 1 in the last few legislative sessions, making for 13-hour, all night hearings in which real people recount their own personal nightmares. In addition to hands-on ministry and compassion to those looking for life-affirming options, another solution is to change laws—laws that impact real people, real families, and real human lives.
Seven other states require patient consent prior to issuing a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order. Common sense dictates that the person’s whose life is at stake should have some actual say in the matter of his own resuscitation, and hence, his own life.
Fourteen other states require clear and convincing evidence as the relevant burden of proof for green-lighting a minor to undergo a secret abortion without her parents.
With a Pro-Life majority in both chambers of the Texas Legislature, substantive action by sine die not only should be expected, but demanded by voters and grassroots activists.