Friday, May 15, 2015

Landmark Bill to Stop Forced Dehydration Passes Texas House, Heads to Senate

By Dr Jacqueline Harvey

The Texas House of Representatives has passed House Bill 3074, which is groundbreaking legislation that would end the forced withdrawal of feeding tubes by medical facilities. HB 3074 by Representative Drew Springer proudly endorsed by Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) will stop involuntary euthanasia by dehydration and is expected to be taken up quickly by the Senate early next week. Once signed into law, HB 3074 will be the first successful reform to the Texas Advanced Directives Act since 2003.

HB 3074 was passed on second reading in the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday, May 14 in under three minutes by a simple voice vote due to overwhelming support from legislators. Representative Springer’s bill boasts four joint authors and 80 co-authors - well over half of the 150 House representatives. But moreover, HB 3074 is the first end-of-life bill in 12 years that has garnered universal agreement among patient advocates, disability rights, prolife and religious organizations.

While these groups take different approaches to reforming broader aspects of Texas end-of-life law and have filed bills on those issues since 2003, Representative Springer found common ground in that all groups wish to protect patients from forced starvation and dehydration and could therefore support a bill like HB 3074 that accomplishes that singular but vital goal. In an inspiring gesture of statesmanship, Representative Patricia Harless chose to delay consideration of her end-of-life bill, House Bill 2351 (which was supported by many groups) until after HB 3074 (which was supported by all). This sacrifice ultimately cost HB 2351 the opportunity to a floor hearing and vote to allowed HB 3074 to pass just before the deadline.

The EPC wishes to congratulate and thank Representative Springer and Representative Harless, State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook for their leadership and success passing HB 3074 to the Senate. Congratulations and thanks as well as the Texas Catholic Conference, Texas Alliance for Life and Texans for Life for leading the advocacy effort. EPC pledges its continued support. 

Dr. Jacqueline C. Harvey (Ph.D.) is a former faculty member at the University of North Texas, as well as the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Harvey, in conjunction with the EPC - International, has authored definitive works on the Texas Advance Directive Act.

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