Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Is the Pro-Life Movement more Pro-Politics or Pro-Profits than Pro-Life?

In response to the death of Sun Hudson, Greg Wallace (of the excellent whatattitudeproblem.blogs.com) wrote us: "...I agree. I would also say that the situation with Terri has been coming to a boil for years and in finally on the front burner, for better or worse. It doesn't mean the pro-life community doesn't care; I think there just wasn't a chance for that awful tragedy in Texas to get the attention it deserves....What happened to Sun maybe overshadowed right now, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen and that doesn't mean the pro-life community doesn't care. I think there's just so much we can all handle effectively right now."

Our response to Greg:

"I'm sorry, I can't buy that.  Reps from NRTL and Texas
RTL actually helped to _draft_ this legislation, which
Wesley J. Smith has described as typical of the
current slippery slope to state-mandated
euthanasia--'the bioethics of Big Brother.'

"To make an all-out push on Terri while allowing Sun
and others to be executed, essentially for the crime
of non-payment of medical bills, IN THE NAME OF AND
TEXAS, threatens to hold our movement up to the same
kind of ridicule that we faced when a parade of
Republican House speakers resigned because of adultery
in the wake of the Clinton impeachment. I, for one,
don't want to go through that again."

Hypocrisy kills!


Blogger greg said...

I got into this a little last night, but here’s a little more background on something I suspect you might have heard yesterday and will continue to hear today. During the debate over Terri Schiavo’s life in Congress on Sunday, Democrats in the House of Representatives argued that President Bush is inconsistent in his support for Terri Schiavo because when he was governor of Texas he signed a bill that was recently used in a terrible case in Texas to deny lifesaving treatment to a baby against the child’s family’s wishes.
But according to a source familiar with what went down in Texas, the then-governor signed into law the best bill he could get at the time, improving an already bad situation. Here’s some background explained:
In August 1996 the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article describing procedures then in effect in Houston hospitals. Under these procedures, if a doctor wished to deny a patient lifesaving medical treatment and the patient or the patient's surrogate instead steadfastly expressed a desire for life, the doctor would submit the case to the hospital ethics committee. The patient or surrogate would be given 72 hours notice of the committee meeting would be allowed to plead for the patient's life at it. During that short 72 hour period, the patient or surrogate, while preparing to argue for life, could also try to find another health care provider willing to give the lifesaving treatment, food or fluids.
If the ethics committee decided for death, under these procedures there was no appeal. There was no provision that the food, fluids, or lifesaving treatment be provided after the decision while the patient or family tried to find another hospital willing to keep the patient alive.
So under these procedures, the hospitals in Houston were denying life-saving treatment, food and fluids against the wishes of patients and their families, when the hospital ethics committees said their quality of life was too poor. Patients and families were being given only 72 hours after being notified of the proposed denial to find another health care provider.
In 1997 there was an advance directives bill going through the Texas legislature that would have given specific legal sanction to such involuntary denial of life-saving treatment. An effort in the Texas legislature to amend the bill to require treatment pending transfer to a health care provider willing to provide the life-saving treatment had been defeated. When that bill reached Governor George Bush’s desk, he vetoed it, and said he was vetoing it precisely because it authorized hospitals to deny lifesaving medical treatment, food, and fluids against the will of the patients.
But even without that bill, these procedures were still going on. So there was an effort in the next sitting of the legislature, in 1999, to pass protective legislation. Unfortunately, the votes just weren’t there to require lifesaving treatment, food, or fluids be provided by unwilling hospitals. So there were negotiations that resulted in a bill that gave partial protection. That 1999 bill:
first, formalized more protections for in-hospital review
second, gave patients 10 days of treatment while seeking transfer, and third, authorized court proceedings to extend the 10 days for reasonable additional periods to accomplish transfer.
Now this was not what patient advocates wanted and it wasn’t what Governor Bush wanted. However, it was an important advance over the existing situation of no legal requirement of treatment pending transfer, for any period of time. The votes were not there in the Texas legislature to accomplish a more protective bill. So Governor Bush signed it because it was an improvement over the existing law.

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