Special Session Priority – Repeal the Anti-Life 10-Day Rule

The Regular Session of the 87th Texas Legislature can aptly be described as a great victory for preborn children and a devastating loss for vulnerable patients. Texas Right to Life had six Pro-Life Priorities for the 87th Legislature, only two of which were fully accomplished. While the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act and the increased funding allocated to the life-affirming Alternatives to Abortion program are victories to celebrate, our fight to protect each innocent human life is far from finished. As Governor Abbott calls legislators back to Austin for multiple special sessions, our state must not squander these opportunities to protect even more innocent human lives by passing the remaining Pro-Life Priorities, including repealing the anti-Life 10-Day Rule.

After their failure to do so in 2019, 16 members of the Texas Legislature sent a letter to Governor Abbott urging him to call a special session to repeal the deadly 10-Day Rule in the Texas Advance Directives Act. The lawmakers correctly identified the emergency nature of the threat this law poses to innocent human Life. This Texas law permits a hospital committee to authorize the involuntary removal of a patient’s basic life-sustaining care, such as a ventilator, dialysis, or blood pressure medications, after a mere 10 days’ notice and over the patient or surrogate’s expressed medical decision to continue receiving the treatment. Unfortunately, after the Regular Session of the 87th Legislature, Texas is in the same position, still having this dangerous law on the books. We need our elected officials to urgently pass a Pro-Life Priority protecting vulnerable patients.

Last year, Baby Tinslee Lewis shocked the world when the then nine-month-old girl’s struggle against the 10-Day Rule was revealed to the public. Tinslee’s life was saved hours before the 10-day countdown expired because Pro-Life lawyers filed a lawsuit. In court, the hospital claimed she would not survive more than a few months after that day, but Tinslee proved them wrong– she celebrated her second birthday in February 2021 and is continuing to grow and improve. 

Every day, countless vulnerable patients just like Tinslee are at risk of falling victim to this law permitting hospitals to determine when a patient’s life is no longer worth living and hastening his or her death by removing life-sustaining care. Tragically, many of those patients will face this process alone, without an independent patient advocate in their corner to fight for them. 

While our elected officials delay, these patients are dying. 

The Texas Legislature must act NOW to protect all Texas patients from the deadly 10-Day Rule.

During the Regular Session, Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) filed Senate Bill 917 and House Bill 2609, the Respecting Texas Patients’ Right to Life Act, to repeal the 10-day countdown. These bills are a targeted reform, only removing the countdown and requiring that instead of beginning a 10-day clock, hospitals would alternatively be required to continue treating the patient until finding an appropriate transfer facility.

These bills were heard during the regular session in both the House Public Health Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. In April, over a hundred people showed their support at the hearing for SB 917, many of whom shared their own heartbreaking stories of loved ones who died as a result of the 10-Day Rule. 

Despite these public demonstrations of support from everyday Texans, the testimony of several experts identifying the glaring flaws in the current system, and even the admission by the bill’s opponents that the current law needs reform, both HB 2609 and SB 917 died without being heard on the House or Senate floor. 

Texas patients and their families deserve better than complacent politicians and powerful lobbyists quietly killing these reforms behind closed doors — they deserve a transparent legislative process and policies that protect their basic constitutional Right to Life. Texans cannot afford for our elected officials to squander another opportunity to abolish this anti-Life law. 

Sign the petition today urging Governor Abbott to add repealing the 10-Day Rule and protecting Texas patients to his special session agenda!