Patient consent for Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders bill headed to Governor Abbott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Patient consent for Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders bill headed to Governor Abbott

Austin, Texas–August 14, 2017: Today, the Texas Senate took the last vote necessary to send Senate Bill 11, one of the five Pro-Life bills on the agenda for this First Called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Governor Greg Abbott made this Pro-Life victory possible by adding patient protections regarding Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders (DNRs) to his list of needed reforms, and now he will have the opportunity to sign this important bill into law.

The measure received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the House by a vote of 122-20, including the support of over 25 Democrats.  The Senate approved the bill by 21-10.

Most Texans would assume patient or surrogate consent is already required for DNRs, but committee hearings in both the regular and special sessions revealed otherwise.  Families recounted horrifying tales in public testimony of not knowing doctors and hospitals could force DNR orders on patients until such a tragedy happened to their own infant children or spouses.

Texas Right to Life is thankful for the indefatigable commitment of the bill authors, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Dr. Greg Bonnen’s (R-Friendswood), to protecting the sanctity of innocent human Life from fertilization until natural death.  Dr. Bonnen, a neurosurgeon, prudently balanced Pro-Life values with his concern to protect the integrity of the medical profession in Texas.  The perseverance and diplomacy exhibited by Senator Perry and Dr. Bonnen proved key during the protracted, successful negotiations on the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 11.

Passing SB 11 is indeed a substantial victory, but much work remains to protect patients’ Right to Life.   The Legislature still must reform the draconian statute that allows hospital committees to withhold or withdraw medical treatment against a patient’s or surrogate’s wishes (Chapter 166.046 of the Health and Safety Code).  Nonetheless, Texas Right to Life celebrates the work of Senator Perry and Dr. Bonnen on passing SB 11 to protect hospitalized patients’ rights from secret or forced DNR orders.

Although limited in scope, this Pro-Life legislation sends a resounding message that Texans, the governor, and the state Legislature support stronger patient protections regarding life and death medical decisions than are currently afforded in Texas law.  Texas Right to Life remains dedicated to safeguarding vulnerable patients in Texas as we have decades.