“Grace to you and peace from Him Who is, Who was, and Who is to come” (Revelation 1:4).
I am writing to you today to provide clarification about SB 917 that the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishop’s (TCCB) wrongly opposes. Regrettably, I would guess that most of the Texas bishops who oppose this pro-life legislation have never read it.
I am sure you are familiar with Baby Tinslee Lewis whose rare medical condition has placed her in the news. It is the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA), with its “10-Day Rule”, that provided doctors legal protection when they threatened to “pull the plug” and end her life against her families wishes—and against a reasonable medical prognosis in favor of Life. Only a court injunction stopped this fatal action, and thankfully Baby Tinslee is alive today. She is alive, 19 months after her attending doctor said she would die, and her family continues to fight for her life sustaining medical care. SB 917 will replace this infamous “10-Day Rule” and allow a patient and their loved ones 90 days to find alternative options for care if a doctor decides he is no longer willing to provide it. I beg you to join me in defense of life. Voice your support for these bipartisan bills and help bring an end to the violence being done to so many in Texas.
It is a regrettable reality that the TCCB as an organization—not all its individual members—has been outspoken in its opposition to this pro-life bill. For the sake of Life, I am compelled to set the record straight. The TCCB has claimed that the passage of SB 917 would undermine physicians’ medical expertise and compromise their conscience rights. This is simply not true. As an authentically pro-life bill, SB 917 protects the conscience rights of doctors AND patients. SB 917 would allow a doctor to withdraw his or her participation in treatment, but NOT allow the critical treatment to be withdrawn from the patient for 90 days. This allows both the doctor’s and the patient’s consciences to be respected without harm to the patient. In essence, SB 917 replaces the 10-Day Rule with a 90-Day Rule, allowing patients and their families more reasonable time to work through the emotions of the situation and secure a transfer to a doctor and/or facility who will continue care.
Despite their public presentation, the TCCB is not in consensus on this matter. At least two Catholic Bishops in Texas have spoken against the troubling position taken by the TCCB. Still more have misgivings but are unwilling to voice disagreement with their fellow bishops. I would surmise that many of the Texas Bishops have not even read SB 917, and do not know what is in it.
In accord with Catholic moral teaching, decisions about critical care and end-of-life care should be made by the individual, or the family members they have entrusted with that responsibility. Doctors are right to provide expert knowledge about a patient’s condition and treatment options, but they should never be given the responsibility or the power to decide when and how a patient dies, especially when their opinion about such matters is in direct opposition to the wishes of the patient and their family. As the Vatican has stated:
If there are no other sufficient remedies (to a critical condition), it is permitted, with the patient’s consent, to have recourse to the means provided by the most advanced medical techniques, even if these means are still at the experimental stage and are not without a certain risk. By accepting them (the advanced and even experimental treatments), the patient can even show generosity in the service of humanity. It is also permitted, with the patient’s consent, to interrupt these means, where the results fall short of expectations (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia).
Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decision should be made by the patient if he is competent or able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interest must always be respected (Catechism 2278).
These are only two quotes from the Ordinary Teaching Office of the Catholic Church. Both make it crystal clear; a person can choose to accept or reject extraordinary treatment. That decision belongs to the patient, not the doctor. Removing the patient’s will from the situation is nothing short of forced euthanasia and a violation of individual conscience. The 10-Day Rule is legalized, forced euthanasia.
A legitimate question to ask is, “What is the motivation for an otherwise ‘pro-life’ Texas to allow such a draconian practice?” Well, the Culture of Death is strong and very motivated. Aside from that, I have one theory that is based on testimony given during the hearings I attended: organ harvesting could have a lot to do with why hospitals and doctors want to control the moment of death. Organ harvesting is a huge business in the medical field. I encourage you all to investigate this yourselves. While organ donations can be a beautiful and life-giving opportunity, that gesture of good-will has been exploited by the Culture of Death for monetary profit at the expense of Life. Based on testimonies given during the hearings, the 10-Day Rule has been an opportunity for this to occur.
If you were contacted by a TCCB representative or bishop, and mistakenly listed your opposition to SB 917/HB 2609, please reverse your decision. Please, contact your state senator and state representative and tell them you wish to reverse your position. Tell them you support SB 917/HB 2609.
I can say with certainty, the TCCB does not speak for all Catholics in Texas. It does not even speak for all its member bishops! Our civil liberties hang in the balance. Lives hang in the balance. Please do not let TCCB be the only Catholic voice on this issue. Contact your state senators and representatives to support SB 917/HB 2609.
God bless you; St. Joseph keep you.
Philip C. L. Gray
President: Catholics United for the Faith and The Saint Joseph Foundation