Under current Texas law, the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA, Chapter 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code ) threatens the Right to Life of every Texan. The statute, known as the 10-Day-Law, is an immediate threat to vulnerable hospital patients. However, any one of us or our loved ones could fall ill or suffer an accident that renders us a hospitalized patient dependent on life-sustaining treatment. In such a tragic situation, who has the right to decide if you live or die?
Under the reign of the anti-Life 10-Day-Law, enacted in 1999, a partial hospital committee has the power to decide to withdraw treatment for any reason, including the subjective anti-life assessment of “quality of life.” The hospital can then remove treatment, even life-sustaining treatment (ventilator, dialysis, etc.), and the patient cannot appeal the decision. Even if the patient is conscious, coherent, and actively requesting the continuation of life-sustaining treatment, the 10-Day-Law gives the hospital the power to overrule the patient’s wishes. The alarming provisions under the 10-Day-Law have been accurately described by people across the political spectrum as “death panels.” The patient and his or her legal surrogate have a mere 10 days to arrange an emergency transfer to another facility that would be willing to continue treatment. Such a transfer is often extraordinarily complicated in such cases, and there are no practical means under the 10-Day-Law for a typical patient to stop the ticking clock on their own.
Many Texans never learn of this anti-Life statute until they are given notice that the 10-day clock has started for them or a loved one. In that terrifying circumstance, patients and their families, already faced with serious illness, must navigate this draconian law in a fight to survive. Texas Right to Life knows this well through acting as patient advocates. Over a hundred families have contacted Texas Right to Life for guidance and support in the battle against the rulings of hospital bureaucracy sanctioned by an unjust law.
Patients like Chris Dunn and his family courageously take their stories public in an effort to raise awareness about the injustice of the 10-Day-Law and to fight for their lives. Chris, a victim of the 10-Day-Law at Houston Methodist Hospital, is sadly far from alone. No one is immune from the reach of this insidious and unconstitutional statute. Between 2005 and 2006 in Houston alone, five very public cases arose. In addition to these public examples, every day, patients across the state fall victim. Texas Right to Life knows personally the stories of over a hundred patients who have fought the 10-Day-Law, some of whom have lived. However, accurate numbers for all cases are not available because hospitals have the power to act with little oversight and the law does not even require hospitals to report on their use of this unique and fatal legal process.
While the international press is rightly outraged at the horrific plight of Charlie Gard in the United Kingdom, Texans should know that many such victims are with us every year in Texas. The courts robbed Charlie’s parents of the right to make his medical decisions and granted a hospital the power to end his life by removing life-sustaining treatment. In Texas, hospitals do not even need the courts to grant them this power as the anti-Life law has already given them the authority over life and death. Infants, children, and hospitalized adults have all been unjustly denied their constitutional right to due process and the Right to Life under the 10-Day-Law. Pro-Life legislators have tried for years to reform the law, and they succeeded in making a first step in the long road to fixing the law in 2015, but political games have killed substantive reforms time and again.
Join Texas Right to Life and all Pro-Life Texans in standing against the Texas 10-Day-Law. Texas law has ignored vulnerable patients and lives have been lost. We can end the tragedy brought by the 10-Day Law if we demand justice for the victims and stand for vulnerable Texans who need our support.