Bill protecting hospitalized patients filed in Texas Legislature

Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) filed the Protecting Patients’ Right to Life Act Tuesday to reform the anti-Life Texas 10-Day Rule. Senate Bill 917 and House Bill 2609 would remove the countdown by which current law authorizes hospitals to remove life-sustaining treatment from patients against their will.

The current law, Section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, sets forth the process by which a hospital may legally remove patients’ life-sustaining treatment despite their own written directive and over the objections of their family. The physician seeking to pull the plug asks the hospital’s own committee to rubber stamp the decision, and then the 10-day countdown begins. As long as they follow this process, the law provides the hospital full civil, criminal, and administrative immunity to impose death after the draconian countdown.

Current law includes other obstacles to due process; Senate Bill 917 and House Bill 2609 aim to remove the countdown for patients and their families. 

The 10-Day Rule garnered unprecedented worldwide attention after patient advocates from Texas Right to Life rescued Baby Tinslee Lewis from being removed from her ventilator in November 2019. Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth began the 10-day countdown, and Baby Tinslee would have suffocated to death against her mother’s will. However, attorneys secured a temporary injunction against the Fort Worth hospital in order to save Tinslee’s life, and her fight for survival has been progressing through the courts ever since. A recent opinion from Texas’s Second Court of Appeals outlined the unconstitutionality of the current law.

Texas Right to Life has assisted scores of additional families facing similar disputes since 2003. All Texas hospital patients deserve to be protected from imposed death without an arbitrary countdown.

SB 917 and HB 2609 offer a targeted reform to the current Texas law by removing the countdown. This policy would incentivize hospitals to collaborate with families to transfer their ailing loved one to a more appropriate care facility, rather than hospitals watching the clock while families are forced to frantically accomplish the nearly impossible task of transferring their loved one with minimum cooperation from their physician.

Texas Right to Life thanks Senator Hughes and Representative Parker for filing this life-saving legislation to protect vulnerable Texas hospitalized patients. Both have consistently achieved high Pro-Life rankings throughout their tenures in the Legislature.

See all Pro-Life Priority Bills here.