SB 2089: Complex bill still needs agreement

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) applauds Sen. Bryan Hughes’ wise acceptance of Sen. Eddie Lucio’s amendment to SB 2089. As Sen. Hughes said with this amendment, SB 2089 is now a better piece of legislation and will ensure appropriate care for Texans facing important end-of-life decisions.

The improved engrossed SB 2089 now protects people living with disabilities from withdrawal of necessary life-sustaining treatment and from being forced to endure burdensome, non-beneficial medical interventions. We believe that the approach now in SB 2089 is reasonable, implementable, and enforceable.  Along with other religious organizations, pro-life groups, and health care professionals, the TCCB supports this version of the bill that improves the composition and practices of ethics committees.

While we support the basic structure of the Texas Advance Directives Act, over the last several years the bishops have successfully advocated for a variety of reasonable reforms to improve the act, specifically to provide greater balance for patient and provider rights. Unfortunately, these reform efforts have often been misunderstood or mischaracterized.

All human life is a gift from God, and is therefore, innately sacred. This respect for life is lifelong – from conception to natural death. We reject medical decision‐making based on flawed “quality-of-life” arguments which are often used to falsely justify euthanasia, which is always morally wrong.

While we support the language in Senate Bill 2089 as it arrived from the Senate, we do not support the original intent of the bill to dismantle a long-standing, carefully-negotiated dispute resolution process for end-of-life care in Texas hospitals. We believe that certain stakeholders will seek edits to bring the current language back to the introduced version, which our organizations oppose.

If SB 2089 is to be heard on the House floor, we urge the authors to ensure that there is a signed agreement to prevent a divisive floor fight to include language that is bad for Texas patients because it undermines patients’ decisions and health care providers’ medical judgement regarding end-of-life care.