Many families are shocked to learn that Texas is home to a state law sanctioning passive euthanasia on sick and disabled individuals. A section of the Texas Advance Directives Act, commonly referred to as the 10-Day Rule, authorizes a physician to pull the plug on a patient over their own written objection and the objections of their family members. After the physician receives authorization from the hospital ethics committee, the family has only 10 days to find a new facility that will accept their loved one. Once the 10 days have expired, the hospital can remove treatment, ultimately causing or speeding the patient’s death.
The 10-Day Rule is a gross offense against an individual’s right to due process, a complete violation of a patient’s right to make her own medical decisions, and an unconstitutional delegation of the state’s power to determine life and death. But this hasn’t stopped Texas hospitals from taking advantage of their legal ability to “end the suffering” of innumerable Texas patients every year.
During the last three months, and indeed the entire year of 2020, the Texas Right to Life patient advocacy team has seen an unprecedented amount of calls for assistance. Our team strives to help families advocate for appropriate, life-affirming medical care for their loved ones in Texas hospitals consistent with the inherent value and dignity of every human life.
During the months of June, July, and August, 17 families reached out to Texas Right to Life. These calls for help ranged from the imposition of the deadly 10-Day Rule to doctors inappropriately attempting to diagnose a patient with brain death, even against the legal criteria. The COVID-19 pandemic, a heightened awareness of the 10-Day Rule due to Baby Tinslee Lewis’s widely publicized case, and Texas Right to Life’s increased efforts at reaching families searching for help via the internet have all contributed to the dramatic uptick in cases this year.
Texas Right to Life General Counsel Emily Cook noted: “As the State of Texas does not require hospitals to report when they invoke the 10-Day Rule on patients, we always suspected there were more Texas hospitals using the 10-Day Rule as a way to intimidate families and sanction passive euthanasia than what came across our desks. The results of our increased web presence and courtroom advocacy has proven our hunch to be true.”
Recently, Texas Right to Life team members and allied attorneys have been successful in saving patients from the 10-Day Rule in seven cases, spanning from Corpus Christi to Dallas. Five of these patients were women, and all seven patients were members of a minority ethnic group. Over the years, we have come to recognize that the 10-Day Rule disproportionately affects low-income and minority families who often struggle with language barriers and who have not been adequately informed about their rights.
You can help change the 10-Day Rule and save countless patients by donating to our Family Assistance Fund, sharing our social media pages, and talking to your friends and family about this cruel assault on human Life.