By Kim Schwartz, Texas Right to Life
The Texas Senate passed a bill last Thursday substantially reforming the deadly Texas 10-Day Rule and improving protections for hospitalized patients.
Current Texas law allows hospitals to remove patients’ life-sustaining treatment against their will with only 10 days’ notice, but House Bill 3162 by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R – Fort Worth) is a significant step in returning more rights to patients and families.
HB 3162 modifies several aspects of the Texas Advance Directives Act, including the 10-Day Rule. The bill by Representative Klick offers more protections to patients, such as:
- Requiring the hospital to perform a procedure necessary to facilitate a transfer before the countdown may begin,
- Specifying that the process cannot be imposed on competent patients,
- Prohibiting decisions from being based on perceived “quality of life” judgments, and
- Giving the family more notice of the ethics committee meeting and more days to secure a transfer.
“We celebrate the biggest step yet in protecting Texas patients. For 20 years, Texas Right to Life has worked with lawmakers to repeal or reform the deadly 10-Day Rule,” added Texas Right to Life President Dr. John Seago. “Now, with the efforts of Representative Stephanie Klick and Senators Drew Springer and Bryan Hughes, countless families will find more relief in this incremental, yet important, legislation.”
Americans everywhere witnessed the horrors of Texas law when hospitals sought to take away treatment from 9-month-old Tinslee Lewis (who is now 4-years-old and home with her family), 46-year-old Chris Dunn, and 61-year-old Carolyn Jones.
While we celebrate this important accomplishment, there is still more work to be done to fully protect the rights of vulnerable Texas hospital patients. We still believe the Texas Advance Directives Act is unethical and unconstitutional. The best way to more fully protect patients’ rights in our state is to repeal this unprecedented state law.
However, until that is accomplished we are committed to improving the law and saving lives along the way like strengthening the anti-discrimination provision and allowing for judicial review of any ethics committee decision. In the meantime, Texas Right to Life’s Patient Advocacy team will continue defending patients victimized by anti-Life ethics in hospitals.
HB 3162 now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, taking effect September 1, 2023. We applaud the tireless leadership of Representative Klick, without whom this victory would not have been possible. She has advocated on this issue for two decades, and spearheaded months of negotiations between advocacy groups, including Texas Right to Life, in order to accomplish the passage of HB 3162.