Over 100 guests gathered at St. Edward’s University in Austin on Thursday, October 9, 2014, for the “Principles and Policies for End-of-Life Care” conference. The Texas Catholic Conference teamed up with The National Catholic Bioethics Center to host this in-depth look at end-of-life care issues, including application of the state’s current law, clarification of Church teaching, legislative reform efforts and pastoral care. Bishop Mark Seitz from the Diocese of El Paso, Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson and Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler joined a variety of prominent medical ethics experts for a lively discussion of these divisive issues.
Bishop Seitz opened the event by taking aim squarely at flaws in the Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999, “Current law defines artificially administered nutrition and hydration as life-sustaining treatment rather than recognizing it as the ordinary, basic care due to any human person. As a result, artificially administered food and water can be withdrawn from patients prematurely, when it still has the ability to nourish and sustain the patient’s life.” He added, “The current ethics committee review process lacks adequate protections for patients and families going through the activity, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed. It is prudent to correct the law to ensure that patient rights are protected.”