As Americans respond individually to the COVID-19 pandemic, our health care institutions are valiantly leading the medical response. But many fear that hospitals may soon deny treatment to certain patients because of overburdened capacity. Some physicians and medical ethicists are suggesting as a “solution” that hospitals impose do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders on coronavirus patients, regardless of the patient or family’s will. This policy not only violates basic Pro-Life principles but also contradicts Texas law and the White House’s approach to the pandemic.
Some professional organizations argue that the elderly or patients with existing illnesses should be denied care in cases of a medical supply shortage. People who are young, strong, or without a disability are arbitrarily elevated above the most vulnerable. The allocation of resources is predetermined solely on a patient’s perceived quality of life. Now, this merciless utilitarian approach is finding new ground.
Several factors contribute to this anti-Life response to COVID-19: a diminishing supply of personal protective equipment, the consistent influx of patients suffering from trauma or other illnesses, and an increased risk of infection to medical staff who must attend to patients. In response to these challenges, some medical professionals recommend that patients be sacrificed for the presumed “greater good.”
Pro-Life Texans and the White House condemn this unethical and hysterical approach. World-renowned global health official Dr. Deborah Birx, who has been appointed as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, clarified on Thursday that hospitals and medical professionals in the United States do not need to suggest to the public that any rationing of ventilators or imposing of unwanted DNRs is currently necessary: “We are reassured in meeting with our colleagues in New York that there are still ICU beds remaining, and there are still over 1,000 to 2,000 ventilators that have not yet been utilized. Please, for the reassurance of people around the world… there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.”
Texans affected by the pandemic should also be aware that as of 2017, secret or forced do-not-resuscitate orders (DNRs) are illegal in Texas. No hospital or doctor may impose an unwanted DNR order on a Texas patient without the express consent of either the patient or the patient’s surrogate. Additionally, the Texas Health and Safety Code states that a medical power of attorney may revoke a DNR order simply by telling any person providing direct care to the patient (Section 166.205). If you suspect that you or your loved one may be the victim of an unwanted DNR or if a doctor is refusing to remove a DNR, please contact Texas Right to Life immediately.
Texans depend on hospital staff to heroically fight on the front lines in the midst of this crisis. And Texans also depend on these crucial medical providers to unequivocally reject any anti-Life guidelines that allow the rationing of life-sustaining care based on a patient’s age or status as a coronavirus patient, especially when there is no present need to panic. Vulnerable Texas patients need more protection, not less, in the face of an unprecedented pandemic.