Today the Texas Legislature will hear two bills that would endanger preborn children and hospitalized patients, respectively. Worse, House Bill 3183 and House Bill 3074 each undermine Pro-Life counterpart bills that would protect vulnerable Texans instead of endangering them. HB 3183 shatters the already-weak Texas law that protects the preborn children of pregnant mothers who are placed on life support during pregnancy. HB 3074 would create the façade of reforming the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), simultaneously leaving gaping loopholes that leave the TADA virtually untouched and Texas patients susceptible to death sentences from their doctors and hospitals.
Under current law, preborn children are protected from death when their mothers undergo an event that necessitates the use of life support technologies. While Texans may establish advance directives indicating that, in the case of a catastrophic circumstance, a person would wish to be removed from artificial life support, current law requires that pregnant mothers remain on life support until the preborn child reaches a gestational age of viability at which he or she may be delivered (this usually occurs somewhere around the halfway point in pregnancy).
However, this legal protection was challenged in late 2013 when the husband of a pregnant mother on life support, Marlise Munoz, sought judicial bypass of the law. Munoz obtained permission to remove his wife and developing preborn child from life support after a judge ruled that the current law was unconstitutional. Anti-Life pundits harnessed the decision to downplay the existence of her preborn child and to argue that Marlise had been subjected to 62 days of unjust life support (even though Marlise did not even have a written advance directive indicating that she would want to be removed from life support if she were pregnant – or that she would want to be removed at all).
The case revealed a need for strengthened legal protections, and Pro-Life Representative Matt Krause responded by filing HB 1901, the Unborn Child Due Process Act. House Bill 1901 would provide an appointed legal representative for the preborn child. This representative would ensure details regarding the child’s development and prognosis for survival were made available to the judge, enabling the judge to ensure that the decision was not an unjust death sentence for the child. In the case of Marlise Munoz, for example, her child was only a few short days away from potentially being delivered and cared for outside the womb. Regrettably, her mother was removed from life support and she consequently died in utero.
But, furthering their morbid agenda, the anti-Life community is working to wholly strike any protection for preborn children from the law by removing the Health and Safety Code provision mandating that pregnant mothers remain on life support. Democrat Representative Elliot Naishtat (supported by notorious anti-Lifers Jessica Farrar and Sarah Davis) has filed HB 3183 in an effort to demean the existence of the preborn child.
Under the guise of defending women, HB 3183 is predicated on the assumption that even acknowledging the existence of a child in utero is somehow directed at diminishing the value of a woman. Don’t be fooled: the bill’s real purpose has nothing to do with women and everything to do with protecting the right to dehumanize preborn children. The bill protracts the false notion that Pro-Life measures create tension between mother and child, when in reality Life-affirming measures recognize the equal dignity of both.
The second bill to be heard today is one Texas Right to Life has discussed at length: HB 3074. HB 3074 masquerades as a reform to the draconian Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), a law which allows physicians and hospitals to remove food and water from patients they no longer wish to treat. Under current law, a patient or his surrogate has no legal wherewithal to protest a doctor’s decision to starve him or her to death.
Rep. Drew Springer’s HB 3074, instead of decisively outlawing the discriminatory death sentences issued by hospitals and physicians, simply provides death panels with a set of guidelines so subjective and broad that they would effectively act as a license to continue killing patients with the blessing of the Legislature. Rep. Springer’s bill, furthermore, is a weakened version of the Texas Right to Life priority bill, HB 3414, which has yet to be added to the House Committee on State Affair’s hearing schedule.
Much is at stake today. We ask you to keep the Pro-Life efforts of our Austin-based legislative team in your prayers as we work to protect the most vulnerable Texans from harmful laws. Contact your Representatives to voice your concerns about these bills.