Politics & Policy

The Corner

MI, KS Push Back Against ‘Futile Care’ Laws

The push back against “futile care” laws has commenced!

Futile care polices allow hospital death panels–I’m particularly talking to you, Texas–that permit wanted life-sustaining treatment to be stopped on the orders of a bioethics committee.

Kansas recently passed a bill requiring consent and permission to stop life-sustaining treatment or refuse CPR. And now, a similar bill has been filed in Michigan. From HB 5076:

(1) A PHYSICIAN SHALL NOT ISSUE A MEDICAL ORDER, ORALLY OR IN WRITING, TO WITHHOLD OR WITHDRAW LIFE-SUSTAINING TREATMENT FROM A PATIENT OR TO NOT RESUSCITATE A PATIENT WITHOUT FIRST OBTAINING THE CONSENT OF 1 OF THE FOLLOWING:

(A) THE PATIENT.

(B) IF THE PATIENT IS A MINOR, A PARENT OF THE MINOR.

(C) IF THE PATIENT HAS DESIGNATED A PATIENT ADVOCATE AND IS UNABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN MEDICAL TREATMENT DECISIONS, SUBJECT TO…, THE PATIENT ADVOCATE.

A similar provision would prohibit a doctor from placing a Do Not Rescuscitate Order (DNR) on a patient’s chart without discussion or consent.

Realize, this is what is (at least used to be) known as non-elective treatment. Patients have the right to refuse it, to be sure.

But that should be their call, not a doctor’s–and certainly not a doctor’s decision taken on his or her own decision-making without discussion or consent.

It should stun us that we need laws of this sort to protect patient lives and autonomy, but these are the times in which we live.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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