- May 10, 2013
AUSTIN--The Texas Catholic bishops today released a letter urging members of the Texas House of Representatives to support Senate Bill 303, and to dramatically improve end-of-life care by protecting the lives of patients, honoring the wishes of families, and safeguarding the consciences of medical providers.
Signed by each bishop representing the Roman Catholic dioceses across the state, the letter unequivocally asserts the Church's position as articulated by the Texas Catholic Conference as authoritative and in accordance with Catholic moral teaching. The bishops expressed disappointment with opponents who misrepresent the provisions of S.B. 303 and the moral principles it addresses.
"In truth, S.B. 303 is an incremental, yet significant, improvement over what has been a sad and painful part of Texas law," the bishops wrote.
"Current law contains provisions that permit the withdrawal of care for patients--including food and water--and permits doctors to unilaterally impose Do Not Attempt Resuscitate (DNAR) orders without the permission, or even consultation, of patients or families. Instead, the choice is left to the provider's subjective discretion," the letter states.
The Texas Catholic Conference bishops renewed their support for Senate Bill 303 as correcting these failings by:
- Preventing unilateral Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) orders;
- Preventing the involuntary denial of food and water, except in extreme circumstances when the treatment would harm the patient or hasten death;
- Requiring doctors and hospitals to treat all patients "equally without regard to permanent physical or mental disabilities, age, gender, ethnic background, or financial or insurance status;"
- Preserving conscience protections so physicians are not required to provide ineffective or harmful procedures indefinitely.
"This is important to use because we recognize human life as a gift from God that is innately sacred--from conception to natural death. We have taken this position after much reflection to ensure that the law accords with our moral values and respects the natural dying process," the bishops wrote.
For the full text of the letter, go to the Texas Catholic Conference website at www.txcatholic.org.