Communications Department

Texas Bill Would Strip Patients of Their Rights

Feb 11, 2013 | 2013 Press Releases

National Right to Life denounces bill to force DNR orders against patient wishes

WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee, the oldest and largest pro-life organization in the United States, is calling for the defeat of a Texas bill – S.B. 303 – that would allow doctors to impose “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” orders on patients even if doing so would violate the patient’s express wishes.

Texas S.B. 303 violates the most fundamental tenet of patient autonomy by allowing doctors to strip patients (or their surrogates), of the right to dictate their wishes with regard to CPR,” said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics. “Texas S.B. 303 gives doctors the unilateral authority to deny CPR, thus imposing involuntary death on patients, with little recourse for patients or their surrogates to seek relief from an imposed DNR order.”

Under the bill, sponsored by State Senator Bob Deuell, Vice-Chair of the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, a doctor is authorized to impose a “DNR” order even over the protest of a patient or surrogate.

The bill provides that the most a patient or surrogate who wants the DNR removed can do is pay for “a second opinion at the patient’s or surrogate’s expense” and – only after that “opinion has been obtained” – appeal to the health care facility’s ethics committee. If the patient should go into cardiopulmonary arrest in the meantime, the patient will suffer involuntary death without resuscitation. In some circumstances, the patient would be denied even the opportunity for a second medical opinion or resort to the facility committee.

We appeal to anyone who cares about patient autonomy or the right to live to shine the light of outraged public opinion on this dangerous bill,” Balch added

National Right to Life’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics has an analysis of S.B. 303 posted here:

The full text of the legislation is here:

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.