Texas legislators need to fix medical law that effectively denies due process

Pratt on TexasOn Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Texas Second Court of Appeals, urging the court to reverse a lower court’s order and grant baby Tinslee Lewis’ family a temporary injunction until the case is resolved to protect the baby’s life.

Back in November, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth denied the “mother’s request to continue life-sustaining treatment without first providing due process of law, directly violating her wishes and her daughter’s right to life,” a statement from Paxton’s office said.

Attorney General Paxton said:

“Life is the first and ultimate constitutionally protected interest, and this case is certainly a matter of life or death… Patients must be heard and justly represented when determining their own medical treatment, especially when their life is in danger.”

The Texas Health and Safety Code states that a doctor who decides that treatment is medically inappropriate – along with an ethics or medical committee that affirms the decision – is not required to provide life-sustaining treatment at the request of a patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless a court orders otherwise.

The statute is flawed in that it does not require doctors to provide an explanation of why they refused life-sustaining treatment. It also provides for too short a window of time and opportunity for the patient’s family to argue their position prior to the so-called ethics committee reaching a decision. That is effectively a denial of due process and Texas legislators need to fix this once and for all.

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