Thursday, January 14, 2016

Joe Pojman’s TAL Declares Euthanasia "Morally Legitimate"

Joe Pojman’s TAL Declares Euthanasia "Morally Legitimate"
James Scott Trimm

In defending their silence on the Pro-Life issue of the life of Chris Dunn, Joe Pojman's Texas Alliance for Life (TAL) has finally spoken.  On their Facebook page TAL wrote:

Many pro-life individuals have been gravely concerned about the tragic case of Mr. Chris Dunn, a 46-year-old man who was admitted into a Houston hospital in mid-October and was on a ventilator. Some media accounts and a pro-life organization misrepresented the situation as one in which the hospital intended to kill Mr. Dunn by removing the respirator that was considered necessary to sustain Mr. Dunn's life. The claims were made that the hospital had judged that Mr. Dunn's life was not worth living….

To help correct the record and to explain the ethical issues involved with end-of-life care, Dr. Beverly Nuckols, a family physician and board member of Texas Alliance for Life, and Deirdre Cooper, our public policy analyst, authored the following article on Public Discourse. We highly recommend every pro-lifer reads it [sic].

In defending Methodist Hospital’s Death Panel’s decision to discontinue life-sustaining treatment from Chris Dunn, Nuckols and Cooper wrote:

"It is entirely possible, even plausible, that the doctors—and Dunn’s father, in his role as surrogate—could have understood Dunn’s death as an unintended but foreseen side effect of a morally legitimate object. That object, by their own profession, was to stop the suffering caused by the treatment to sustain his life."

That’s right, a TAL board member and the TAL public policy analyst just declared that "to stop the sufferuing caused by ... treatment to sustain ... life" is "a morally legitimate object."!  

Joe Pojman is the Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life.  The claimed mission of this organization is to “protect innocent human life from conception through natural death through peaceful, legal means.” And there was a time when this organization was true to its mission, but today the organization exists largely to give cover to politicians that are weak on pro-life issues.  While they are a pro-life, or at least anti-abortion group to an extent, they also often fight conservatives on end of life issues.  For example Pojman has empowered the healthcare lobby and hospitals to end the life of a patient without family permission.
Little did I know that just about a month later the issue of TAL's less than Pro-Life position on end of life care was about to become front and center with the efforts by the Houston Methodist Hospital death panel to let Chris Dunn die! <click here for more on this>
Back 1999, The Texas Legislature unanimously passed the draconian Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA). Under TADA, when a doctor and a patient (or his/her surrogate) disagree about appropriate end-of-life treatment, the disagreement is taken before an ethics review committee.
TADA only provides a ten day period for the patient's family either to find another facility to accept the patient or to obtain a court injunction to extend their life. If no other facility will accept the patient within the period of time and the family is unable to obtain a court injunction, then the hospital is legally permitted to withdraw life sustaining-treatment from the patient, and simply let them die, regardless of their wishes, their living will, or the wishes of their family.  Folks, this is one of those “death panels” about you have been warned. 
Texas Right to Life has been lobbying since 2005 has to end these death panels.  You would think that any real pro-life organization, would be working with them to end this “death panel” system in Texas.  But that is far from the truth.  When opportunities to reform this act have presented themselves, Pojman’s Texas Alliance for Life has run interference.  For example in the 84th Texas Legislative session (2015) Texas Alliance for Life actually supported House Bill 2351, which was supposed to be a bill to reform these death panels, but in reality this Bill only perpetuated the death panels.  

HB 2351 by Representative Patricia Harless (R-Spring) will also be heard today in the House Committee on State Affairs.  The stated purpose of HB 2351 is to reform hospital ethics committees (death panels), which currently hold unlimited power to remove medical treatment from patients after providing ten days notice to the patient or family.  Under the current Texas Advance Directives Act, hospitals may remove life-sustaining treatments including a ventilator, dialysis, food, and hydration from patients, even if the patient or their family has expressed a desire to continue such care and treatment.  Treatment can be withdrawn from any patient for any reason, including discrimination against a patient who is elderly, terminally ill, or disabled.

Rather than actually reforming the draconian ten-day law, HB 2351 instructs the hospital committees to write and circulate their own regulations about conflicts of interest for their own ethics committees about their own decisions on withdrawing treatment from patients.  HB 2351 also instructs facilities to write and implement policies for withdrawing treatment from patients with disabilities.  However, this section establishes yet another dangerous loophole through this provision by adding: “unless the disability is relevant in determining whether a medical or surgical intervention is medically appropriate.”  HB 2351 does not actually provide specific details about what the policies should be, just that hospitals should adopt policies on these topics.

Thanks to Joe Pojman and the Texas Alliance for Life, death panels are alive and well in Texas.  There is blood on their hands.

If you want to support the pro-life movement in Texas, please do it through Texas Right to Life, do not be fooled by groups who have sold their souls to the Austin Establishment and the healthcare lobby. 

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