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No-choice DNRs may be coming to a state near you

Wesley J. Smith has been keeping his readers updated on attempts to pass state laws authorizing doctors to put a Do Not Resuscitate order on a patient's chart without the consent of the patient or patient representative.

An attempt to pass such a law was recently averted in Texas (Smith testified against that law), but similar laws have just been passed in Maryland and Vermont. (Side point: My understanding based on this case is that no-consent DNRs could already be put on a patient's chart given the official vote of a hospital ethics committee, so I don't know for sure what the point was of the new law. Perhaps it was to allow the doctors to write the no-consent DNRs without bothering to go through the hospital death panel.)

California has a variant on this: Doctors can't write a DNR order without your consent, but if your orders, even written ones, include resuscitation, doctors are free to ignore them.

The obvious comment is "so much for choice."

More than that, it's important to know that "Do Not Resuscitate" can be code for "Do Not Feed," surprisingly enough. (And how is the average layman supposed to know that at all, since it is unstated?) It seems to me highly probable that a state's authorizing unilateral DNR orders will amount in practice to the legality of unilateral death by dehydration.

Note, too, that this has nothing to do with the patient's alleged inability to pay. If it has to do with cost at all, it's only in the indirect sense that the futilitarians believe "we" own "our health care dollars" corporately and that they (the really Rational People) should control them. Hence, whether you have insurance or even want to pay out of your own pocket or not, the money shouldn't in their view be spent on what they regard as "futile care." The issue is entirely one of futile care theory.

We need to be on the ball to lobby against such laws if they are being considered in our own states. I strongly advise following a blog like Wesley J. Smith's Human Exceptionalism to get a "heads up" when needed.

Comments (4)

It is worth noting, too, that both Texas Alliance for Life and the Texas Catholic Conference- the official voice of all of the Catholic bishops of Texas- very strongly, and to the bitter end, supported SB 303, with both TAL and TCC vigorously straw-manning, ad-hominemating, and airily waving away any objections to the varied- and many- problems in the bill. Refusing to take what they seem to feel is a personal loss with any good grace, TAL continued to snipe away at opponents weeks after the last and most obnoxious version of the bill was finally quashed.

These are the "official", "reputable" voices of the pro-life movement and of the Catholic Church in the supposedly conservative state of Texas. With friends like these, we're in worse shape than anybody really imagines.

Dang. TAL is the main pro-life state org.?

TAL is based in Austin, which is one advantage in dealing with legislators; and is apparently willing to compromise on fundamentals in order to get something passed, which is certainly another advantage. Texas Right to Life is the state's NRLC affiliate, but it is based in Houston, and its unwillingness to compromise away fundamentals has gotten it put on the naughty list by certain influential politicians. As well as by TAL and, disturbingly, TCC.

But the state's Catholic bishops are hapless when they aren't actively harmful; they appear to have outsourced their legislative priorities and their lobbying. At least, based on their list of legislative priorities and their nonresponsive responses to e.g. TRTL's objections to various provisions of SB303, I can only hope their involvement is no deeper than photo-op level. (I may misrecall, but former Austin bishop Aymond, now archbishop of New Orleans, strongly supported the original legislation which SB303 was intended to fix.) {And their list of tax, borrow, spend priorities includes a Nanny Bloomberg tax on sugary beverages. Lemonade, iced tea, you'd think none of our bishops lives in the state, at least not during the eight hot months of the year...}

In fact, the vacuum the bishops' focus provides means that unexpected voices come in. The Texas Home School Coalition, of all things, wrote and spoke powerfully against SB303.

So, Texas Right to Life. But not Texas Catholic bishops. And, not infrequently, not TAL.

Naturally they want these people dead. They need the money to pay for abortions and sex-"change" operations.

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