Friday, September 13, 2019

Texas Right to Life's 22nd Annual Celebration of Life in Houston

I'll be there! Please come out and join this fantastic organization and meet some truly inspirational and the most dedicated pro-life warriors in this entire state. Rafael Cruz is the keynote speaker. I've never heard him in person, but I think he's an outstanding speaker. I'm eager to hear what he has to say to us. 

Now more than ever, Texas has problems. The "pro-life Republicans" keep letting us down and our pro-life status is slipping away, along with untold lives. This has to end. There is no excuse for it. We need as many people on board with the true pro-life mission in Texas as possible. Come hear the plans, meet your like-minded comrades, and get energized for the battles ahead. Lives depend on it! 

This event is the BIG ONE they have in the state and I've been trying to get down there for it for years. I'm excited to say that I'll also be at the one here in Dallas in October, which I'll post more about then as well. 

For more information, go here.* 

I hope to see you there! 

Thanks for reading! 

*Do not go to as that redirects you to Texas Alliance for Life ("TAL") and its annual dinner. (Isn't that funny? You're trying to go to the real pro-life org's site and your efforts are co-opted and misdirected to the wrong place. It's exactly what they do in the legislature. It's really incredible, actually; a metaphor for all they are and do.) Texas Right to Life and TAL are not the same organization. I noticed this URL thing probably a year or more ago, but said nothing. Sometimes it's best not to draw attention to such things and individuals. But I now think people need to be warned. I've always tried to bring clarity and truth to these situations, often times by letting others' conduct and words inform you about themselves which is almost always more effective and telling than anything I might say. 

TAL is anything but an authentic pro-life organization. It sows confusion among well-meaning and intentioned pro-life grassroots and continues the misdirection of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops ("TCCB"), some misguided (I'm being generous) politicians, and the pro-abortion Texas medical lobby (the Texas Medical Association, "TMA") to promote legislation that is not pro-life: the unholy alliance, as it has been called by some. I refer to them as The Usual Suspects. This is especially true of end-of-life / denial-of-care matters. But TAL works to water down legislation that would save more preborn babies as well. If you've been reading this blog for 5 minutes or less, you know that a big reason we continue to have euthanasia in Texas - involuntary passive euthanasia - is because of TAL and the TCCB as well as the TMA and weak, anti-life Republican leadership. In my most recent post, I reminded you that if you give one red cent to TAL (and the TCCB for that matter) you are promoting euthanasia, harming families, and supporting an organization that unnecessarily weakens and undermines the pro-life legislation that it doesn't outright oppose. 

Given what it does to misdirect, misguide, and mislead on legislation, it's no surprise at all that TAL co-opted a URL with Texas Right to Life in it to misdirect, misguide, and mislead supporters of Texas Right to Life to TAL's own site and dinner. Unable to stand on its own merits, it must lie, cheat, and attempt to steal from another. How sad. How telling. Remember: If people will do this about small, relatively petty things, they will do it about bigger things. We've seen that consistently already. As we all know, sin begets more sin. Now you know even more. Resist them and their ilk. 

I'll see you in Houston, and again in Dallas, at the authentic Texas Right to Life dinners. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

"Brain Death" & the Texas Advance Directives Act

Read about this Orthodox Monk's incredible story and commitment to life and opposition to euthanasia.
(*For those without Facebook, I post the full story below.)

The legislative session is over, but anti-life forces do not rest. Right now patients all across Texas are at risk of having their lives prematurely ended against their - or their surrogates' - will. I've long-written and talked about the Texas Advance Directives Act ("TADA") and how it unconstitutionally works against patients. Nearly this entire blog has been dedicated to this law, its effects, and efforts to amend or repeal it. But what you may not know is that even TADA does not have to be invoked if the hospital declares a patient "brain dead." It can withdraw care from a patient without even going through that nominal farcical procedure devoid of due process rights. 

Recent case in point: Taylor Campos. Fortunately, her father called Texas Right to Life and Taylor's life was saved from euthanasia. Read about it for yourself.

What they are able to do with a quick declaration of brain death - which does not require tests - is actually worse than TADA. Read the statute yourself - it is easy and quick. It has two sections. The first section includes subsection (b) which allows the doctor to walk in and "announce" death. The second section makes sure he is immune from liability for doing so and all those who act according to his pronouncement are immune as well. 

So, if the person is receiving life-sustaining care, under subsection (b), the doctor just has to go in and "announce[ his] opinion" that they are dead. Note, that "[d]eath must be pronounced before" life-sustaining care is removed.

Then there is the second subsection, protecting a doctor from liability for this "announcement." 

Note that the statute does not require certain tests or any level of "reasonable probability" in making this "announcement" or "pronouncement." The "ordinary standards of medical practice" simply means "whatever they usually do." It's that simple. It's like that in medical malpractice law. A doctor's potential negligence is measured against the "accepted standards of medical  care" used in that situation. If everyone else is doing it, that's pretty good cover for a doctor, even if it's not actually the best medicine. In essence, this "announced opinion" is based on what we'd call in the law, the ipse dixit of the "expert." This means, "he himself said it" and is defined as "something asserted but not proved." In civil law cases where expert testimony is required, that is not good enough. You have to have a reliable foundation for an opinion by an expert qualified in the field in which he is offering an opinion where there are not great "analytical gaps" between the facts and the opinions. This high standard of evidentiary reliability among expert opinions applies in all cases - including, ironically - medical malpractice cases. But here, that same standard does not apply despite the fact that we are dealing with decisions concerning life and actual death of people. Interesting, no?

Understand, too, that the term "brain death" is very controversial among doctors and even among Catholic philosophers. There is no definitive test for it or criteria that makes it absolutely certain. In fact, the definition of brain death is not established. It depends on who you ask and where you are at the time. It's often a medical or legal fiction used to serve other purposes. (Among those purposes is organ donation. At some point, we are going to have to confront that inconvenient truth and all the moral and ethical considerations it raises. Many will be surprised. Many are studiously avoiding addressing this. They don't even want it brought up.) 

There are tests that call such an "announcement" into question and may make a hospital back off, such as blood flow tests to see if blood is flowing to the brain, but those are problematic for a variety of reasons. They are not necessarily definitive either. Often a hospital will want to do an "apnea" test to determine brain death which can (and often) does more damage to the ill person. It requires withdrawing a ventilator for 10 minutes and seeing if they breathe on their own. If they can't, that is considered "proof" they are brain dead. But if they need the ventilator, they can't breathe entirely on their own, can they? But that does not mean that their brains have ceased to function either. Other areas of the brain may be functioning fine and they may yet breathe again on their own or with less support given more time to heal and recover. However, being without any or sufficient oxygen for 10 minutes can certainly cause further brain damage. These tests have also been shown to have the greatest possibility for inaccuracies as well.

That said, Texas Right to Life has been successful in a number of cases in challenging brain death declarations where tests did contradict the "announcement" / "pronouncement" of brain death by a doctor. Thanks be to God! 

It cannot be emphasized enough that we continue to learn more and more about how brain death is simply not as it has been and is presented. Science actually knows very little about the brain. Much has been based on assumptions that continue to be disproven. People recover from injuries that were said just a few years ago to be impossible to recover from. Follow the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network; Bobby Schindler covers these stories and the latest medical research all the time. Follow Wesley Smith who covers the ethical side of this and the ever-expanding euthanasia side of the Culture of Death. 

I have a growing library of books written by people who were in "comas" and "brain dead" or in "persistent vegetative states" who recovered eventually. It is stunning what they have to say. (At some point, I may start writing book reviews as I work through all of these.) Less than a month ago, yet another person "woke up" who was never supposed to. Read the stats in this article and where things are (note the attitudes of some of the health care providers as well; what a shame). Then ask yourself if doctors should be making diagnoses that kill people prematurely, even preemptively, especially when that "diagnosis" comes down to "because I said so."

Nevertheless, in Texas, all it takes is for the doctor to "announce" / "pronounce" the person "brain dead" and a death certificate can be issued with what is apparently intended to be complete immunity for the doctor and those acting under this "he's dead because I said so" determination. Further, once that declaration has been made, the person is considered "dead" and they do not fall within TADA anymore. Do you see how insidious this is? How the cards are stacked against the patient? They always were even with TADA, but now even the one-sided due process-less "protocol" or "procedure" under TADA is not even required. There is no "hearing" with the "bioethics committee" and no 10 days. 

However, if the brain death declaration can be challenged successfully, if the hospital will do the requested tests (I've seen nothing that requires them to do them), the very real risk is then that the hospital will invoke TADA to try to withdraw care that way and receive the immunity found under that statute. Remember, when Texas Health & Safety Code Section 166.046 is invoked - and used per the statute (which has no substantive or procedural due process rights for the patient or surrogate) - doctors and hospitals have total immunity from lawsuits under Section 166.044. 

Some lawyers have interpreted this to include immunity from lawsuits for medical malpractice that may have occurred prior to the invocation of TADA. To my knowledge, this has yet to be challenged. I hope it is one day. Soon. (But medical malpractice lawsuits, in general, are exceedingly difficult to bring in Texas anyway given the "tort reform" that was put into place which further eroded rights from patients and took away an important means of holding negligent (and sometimes grossly negligent) doctors accountable. It is not true that lawyers sue over everything. We can't. Lawsuits are expensive (a med mal can easily get to six figures to prosecute) and we foot the bills for many of them until and unless a favorable settlement or judgment is reached, if any. Someday, as an attorney who works on medical malpractice lawsuits and products liability cases on behalf of plaintiffs, I may write a post explaining how lawsuits work and how tort reform - far from helping you - actually hurt you both in financial terms and in terms of your overall safety.)

One can also imagine a scenario in which a quick declaration of brain death and then acting to stop the life-sustaining care of that person could cover up many a mistake or even the investigation to see what might have gone wrong, whether there was negligence or not. People, even doctors, can panic and act in fear. Without further testing or ability to examine the person, it would be very hard to prove a case unless someone actually wrote down what happened in a medical record or was willing to testify. (If you think the blue wall of silence among police can be impenetrable; try finding someone in a hospital that will testify about the negligence of a doctor even where it can be objectively proven). In my world, when evidence is destroyed to cover things up - be it a defective part or some other such thing - it's called spoliation and you can get into big trouble for it. Here, there are procedures in place to protect one who might spoliate (yes, that's how it's spelled) the most important evidence of all - the very patient himself! 

This is not to make any specific comment on Taylor's case, which to my knowledge did not involve invoking TADA, but was the declaration of brain death (presumably to avoid even that) which was successfully challenged. Then she was transferred to another facility for further care. I have not read her medical records and know very little more about it than what I post here. 

It is to say, however, that doctors and hospitals can be very quick to invoke either brain death or TADA and that always makes me wonder why. Remember, these are not always cases of people who are terminal or even unconscious or "suffering" (mercy killing is prohibited under TADA, by the way, see Section 166.050). Neither Carolyn Jones nor Chris Dunn were unconscious, but hospitals invoked TADA to withdraw their life-sustaining care to hasten their deaths in both cases. In both cases, Texas Right to Life and their allies worked to stop it and give these people more time. In other cases, TRTL and their allies work to stop the effects of TADA or a brain death declaration to give patients more time for their bodies to heal, for their true situations to be assessed, and, in many cases, for them to be moved to safety. 

Pro-TADA forces say this stuff rarely happens in Texas. That is untrue. At the time that Taylor's case was ongoing, I know of at least three others that were happening at the same time. And, today, I read about another that was going on about this time as well. Joe is a 12-year old who was declared "brain dead." That decision was challenged and found to be incorrect. His family, as others have, moved him out of state - to New Jersey for Heaven's sake - to be safe from Texas' law. 

To say I am ashamed of Texas and all those who claim the mantle of "pro-life" and support this is to put it mildly. What they advocate and support should be criminal, is immoral, unethical, and nothing less than a full embrace of the Culture of Death. Those that did not have the courage and strength to amend this law this past session have this on their consciences. They will be judged for what they did and did not do. I'm looking at you, Republicans. 

There is only one organization that is fighting against this law, against the political and other forces supporting the Culture of Death - and - just as importantly, if not more so, is helping families get out of harm's way as best they can - and that is Texas Right to Life. They are the lone organization fighting this in Texas. They take some hits and abuse, as you might imagine, from the forces that make sure this law stays in place and more are victimized by it. But TRTL has many supporters and allies, including many who travel from out of state to help out like Bobby Schindler and Wesley Smith. Their biggest allies, however, may be the families they've helped; the families who found out the hard way what Texas law can do to you. But know that those other organizations claiming to be pro-life and support this law as well as the entities that push this law down your throat (and are in an unholy alliance with these faux life groups) do nothing to help out. Of course, they don't. If you give one penny to them, you're promoting a Culture of Death. Know that. 

If you oppose TADA and want to help families victimized by it, you should be a regular donor to TRTL. You should also consider going to their Houston Celebration of Life, on September 28, or the one that will be held up here in Dallas on October 26. They are excellent events that are inspirational, fun, informative, and an opportunity to meet some really good people who work very hard in ways seen and unseen in this urgent, necessary, but exhausting and difficult battle. 

I'll be at the one here in Dallas and I hope to see you as well. More on all that later.

Thanks for reading! 

* For those who do not have Facebook, I copy and paste the story about the Orthodox Monk, here:

A monk from the monastery in Chania, Crete: " agree with everything except euthanasia. My strength is weakened by sicknes.": Sophronios, who suffers from Terminal Motor Neurone disease, has recently given a sensational interview to Crete TV with the help of a keystroke system.
Q: They say that pain completes existence. Do you experience this and how?
A: Pain is a big school and teaches self-knowledge that leads to brotherhood and ultimately to godhood. Pain humiliates you with humiliation, our heart softens and opens to God and our fellow man. I communicate with people all over the world suffering from physical or mental illnesses.
With the help of God, with my experience in bed of pain, I understand them, even a little to say a comforting word, a word of our Christ. Today, there is so much loneliness in the world and riot and fear. We Christians who have the gift of God to know Christ must share with our fellowman the joy, the peace and the love that is Christ. Is not this the goal of our existence, to save all?
Q: What would you say to someone who wants to make euthanasia?
Q: Life is a gift of God to all of us. I understand this better than ever now that I'm in bed. No one came to life with his will. So how can you put an end to your life, since it really does not belong to you? This, in my opinion, is the problem of our time, it cultivates in the modern man an egocentric way of life, cut off from the community, from the family, the neighborhood, the homeland, etc. so we think we are independent, self-propelled in this world.
I think it is the wrong view of life that leads the man of our time from "self-confinement" to suicide. I understand that he does not want the patient to become a burden on others or does not want his loved ones to see him suffer. It's very humiliating - I know it very well. But the humble has the Kingdom of God, not the selfish.
Q: Do you think that if you had no faith, would you have the same attitude towards pain?
A: Without Christ I would be nothing. There is another pain that is more painful than the pain we are talking about. And this is the pain that the soul feels when it is lacking in the presence of God, which enlivens everything and gives meaning to this human pain. The absence of God from man's life today is the most painful pain.
Q: In the bed of pain come moments that make you question God and your faith?
A: On the contrary, it joins me with God and I feel Love and His presence more intense. But it does not mean that the moments of human weakness do not come. The Christian needs faith, bravery, and courage. God never abandons us.
Q: How can pain be blessed? What can "life" mean when you are stuck in the bed of pain?
A: Pain and difficulties are sometimes unbearable for humans. In these moments I feel the presence and consolation of God more intense. I think in both these questions the answer can be given by Him who I also receive in my difficult moments when I look at the crucified Christ. He first turned His own pain into blessing. And His own life on the Cross was glorified and remained in history as the King of Glory. It is the standard and at the same time the rest of every pain.
Q: What are the difficulties of your illness?
A: I have ALS / MND - Stephen Hawking's disease. It has no cure. I am paralyzed, I only can move my eyelids and lips. I do not swallow, I'm eating through a feeding tube. I do not breathe on my own, except with the support of a ventilator. I can tell you details, but it suffices to say that I can not do anything without the help of someone taking care of me.

As a layman I was very independent to a degree very selfish. Now that I can not do anything without someone else, I understand why Christ taught us to be united in one body. We need each other to be in a society with our fellow humans.
Q: How many years have you been in bed and how does communication work?
A: I have been permanently bedridden for 6 years. I communicate with a computer system that allows me to write with my eyes. Thank God ! You see what the good God is doing!
Q: What do you think you have gained as the most positive of your illness?
A: Without a doubt, the most positive is my union with God, that I feel His love filling my heart.
Q: How is your relationship with your brothers in the Gouverneto monastery now with your illness?
A: I am very blessed in the Gouverneto monastery. It is a holy place under the abode of the Virgin Mary. With the intense presence of St. John the Hermit and the place of martyrs, it has a great deal of grace. In the Divine Economy I have a very blessed abbot, Elder Iromeo, a man of God, full of love. The brotherhood is very beloved with humble fathers who make their struggle.

They take care of me with sacrificial love. An example of the love that exists here: At the time I was a novice my illness was occurred. I was diagnosed with ALS, an incurable disease. When I learned what it all involved, I told my elder that I do not want to be a burden on the brotherhood and I will not stay. But the elder and all the brothers said that they want me as I am. This is the love of Christ.
Q: What would you like to say to the viewers who are watching you now, sick or not?
A: Life without Christ is not life. With Christ at the center of your life you have love, peace and life has another meaning. As St. Porphyrios said: "Christ is everything".

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Carolyn Jones Has Passed Away - May Her Memory Be Eternal

I posted an update about Mrs. Jones recently letting you all know that she had been moved to a long-term nursing facility. I learned yesterday that she has passed away. Texas Right to Life announced it, which I quote in full:

HOUSTON – Carolyn Jones passed away Tuesday from natural causes following her high-profile battle with the Texas 10-Day Rule. In May, a hospital committee pulled the plug on Carolyn against her family’s will, but she lived without a ventilator or dialysis for over 60 hours until escaping the hostile hospital in a private ambulance in the dead of night.
Carolyn stopped breathing early Tuesday morning at the long-term nursing facility in which she resided and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Hours later, Carolyn passed away peacefully – on God’s time, not on a countdown forced by a hospital committee or at a time prescribed by state law.
Carolyn’s husband and daughter, Donald and Kina Jones, labored tirelessly to protect her from death imposed by the 10-Day Rule. The Jones family is grateful for countless concerned well-wishers and supporters who sent love as well as donations to Carolyn’s aid.  The generosity of people from across the United States afforded the Jones family 43 extra days to cherish with their wife and mother whose life would have otherwise been cut short in May. Texas Right to Life is honored to have played some small role in aiding Donald and Kina as they endured this tragic circumstance.
Texas Right to Life requests prayers and privacy for the Jones family, and we pray that Carolyn is at rest now with our Heavenly Father.

I, like Texas Right to Life, am very grateful that Mrs. Jones was able to pass away in her own time, with appropriate care maintained, and not because her care had been prematurely withdrawn in order to hasten her death. I am grateful that she was given more time with her family and they with her. That is how it should be for every patient and family. No one should have their death hastened against their will by the withdrawal of care. 

What this family went through to allow that to happen because of the state of Texas law is diabolical and must be stopped. And, for those who accuse those of us who oppose TADA of trying to keep "corpses" alive (appalling, disgusting language I've heard repeatedly, even during testimony by a Catholic hospital administrator "ethicist" in opposition to the reform efforts this session), and including by the Usual Suspects: NOTE that when it was Mrs. Jones' time, it was her time. No one denies that. But it should not be someone's time because a doctor or hospital decided to take away their effective life-sustaining care in order to hasten their death because they didn't think that life was worth living or had value. This is a distinction with a difference. What TADA allows doctors and hospitals to do is eugenics and euthanasia, which are not moral or ethical. Nor should this practice be legal. 

Let us pray for the repose of Mrs. Jones' soul and for comfort to her family in their time of loss and grief. As we say in Orthodoxy: Memory Eternal! ☦ 

I will now add her to my diptychs for the reposed, as I have Chris Dunn, other actual or would-be victims of TADA, my own family members, friends, etc., as is the practice of Catholics and Orthodox alike.  

Let us also offer prayers of thanksgiving for Texas Right to Life and those who worked to help the Jones' - whether they donated, prayed, helped in the transfer of her - or did some combination of things; the other families put in harm's way by this law (and it's happening continually); and those that utilize it. We must never cease to be grateful and thankful. Perhaps you could even make a donation to TRTL in honor of Mrs. Jones. Let us also pray incessantly for this law to be abolished one way or the other.  

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Update on Carolyn Jones

Here's an update on Carolyn Jones, a victim of Texas' 10-day Rule in the Texas Advance Directives Act ("TADA"), who was literally rescued from the jaws of death by Texas Right to Life. I covered that saga here many times. It came during our efforts to repeal that part of the law which, as you know, the Usual Suspects opposed time and time and time again. 

I am happy to share with you that Texas Right to Life reports that Mrs. Jones has been "moved to a long-term nursing facility where she will be allowed to heal without a countdown placed on her life - thanks to YOU!" (Emphasis by TxRTL.) 

I am so happy about this. Add this to the things we can learn from how this case was handled by TxRTL, mishandled by the others, and what it showed us about who supported what in the legislature and in the real world. 

Let me just re-post here what I said there as the key take-aways:

So what are we to conclude; what have we learned here? 
That the doctor(s) who went to the medical ethics committed at MH were wrong that Mrs. Jones was futile or someone who should not be treated? Yes. That the medical ethics committee was also wrong in rubber stamping that decision? Yes. That this procedure does not yield infallible results? Absolutely. That maybe there's a bit of an outcome based decision-making process? That's fair. That once they make a decision, that even when it appears that they are wrong, we can't count on them to reverse course and do the right thing even when a life hangs in the balance? I think the facts here speak for themselves. That maybe there should be a longer timeframe so that mistakes like this are not made with more Texans? No doubt about it. That maybe if there was some due process in the law, a check and balance, that hospitals might be more careful and mistakes would not happen? Of course, that's why we have due process in the law when it comes to criminals. It should be here for the ill and disabled as well. 

That is even more true today. 

But SB 2089 still died - even in the wake of Mrs. Jones' case - as egregious an example of the usage of TADA as we've seen in the public. It was opposed by the Usual Suspects even after the Jones case came to light - which just added to the shamefulness of their positions. (By the way, did you see any of them fundraising for Mrs. Jones? Yeah, me either. As I often say, by their fruits, you will know them. All of them.)

There was also no real (or even faux) commitment to life in the House of Representatives in Texas by the leadership including especially Speaker Bonnen, who thinks that working on real pro-life legislation with real pro-life groups was a waste of his time. I guess he was just being polite when he hugged a child with Downs syndrome (who testified in favor of SB 1033, no less!) and acted like he gave a care about unborn children with disabilities who would have been saved by SB 1033. Remember that.

Bonnen reminds me very much of one of my favorite scenes from the classic movie, The Hunt for Red October:

But Bonnen has not been smart. He forgot about the last part of that - he hasn't kept his options open. Not with the grassroots. And not with organizations like Texas Right to Life. Among others. 

I'm honestly not sure how much commitment there was by those who are not in leadership positions but voted for this leadership. How many of them pushed behind the scenes for this legislation to get to the floor? I don't know, but I can't imagine many. From what I've been reading, too many of them were running scared - afraid of the "Blue Wave" they foresee in the next election. They're not being smart either. As I tweeted recently:

When the Blue Wave comes, it won't be entirely (if much at all) because voters shifted left. It will be, in a great number of cases, because the Republicans - including many of the so-called conservatives -  alienated their base who will stay home rather than vote Democrat/pro-abortion or for the lackluster incumbent. It's Lucy and the Football. A good many of us will say, "No thanks" when it comes to voting for incumbents that lost their spines once elected, if they possessed them before. What is needed is robust primaries in 2020 and new leadership in 2021. But Bonnen is already threatening people who primary others. Nice guy, huh? That seems a lot like Chicago politics to me. 

God help them all. They will have blood on their hands from the death of SB 2089 as well as SB 1033 - lives at both ends of the pro-life spectrum will continue to be taken needlessly because of wolves in sheep's clothing in political offices and who head and lobby for organizations that lie about what they represent.

So, as we continue to process what happened and deal with the aftermath - yes, TADA is still being used by hospitals - let's at least rejoice that one intended victim was saved. Not by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. Not by Texas Alliance for Life. Not by Texans for Life Coalition. Not by the Texas Medical Association. Not by the Texas Hospital Association. Not by any of the Usual Suspects. 

She was saved by Texas Right to Life and its tremendous number of supporters who rose to the occasion with gifts of prayer and money and social networking to get the word out.

Remember: We err, if we are to err at all, on the side of life. Always. TADA errs - certainly - on the side of death by passive involuntary euthanasia. It must be stopped. Efforts are still under way. Please pray for them. Pray for those families in its crosshairs. Pray for those working to end it. Please pray for those who are lost on this issue. And, please consider adding TxRTL to those organizations to which you regularly give. They are most worthy and deserving. 

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, May 20, 2019

UPDATED: SB 2089 and SB 1033 Are Dead

Photo by Cristian Grecu on Unsplash

UPDATE: Charlie Johnston just posted on his blog a few short takes, one of which says the following:

I have commented boldly of late of my contempt for the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops (TCCB) policy of supporting forced involuntary euthanasia in that state and mislabeling it pro-life. Insiders maintain that the Bishop who took the lead in doing the Texas Medical Assn. and the Texas Hospital Assn.’s bidding is Dallas Bishop Edward Burns. Yet while his activism against authentic Catholic doctrine has alienated the faithful in his Diocese, it did not immunize him from secular police raids. Now I find some prominent lay organizations have taken an interest in the mangling of Catholic Doctrine by the TCCB. There will be consequences for all of this.

Very interesting. I have no independent knowledge of this but am hardly shocked or surprised. The Texas Bishops cannot be counted on to do the right thing with regard to pro-life legislative efforts here in Texas. That is very well established.

Likewise, certain prominent lay groups - I am not certain if Charlie means the Usual Suspects or yet more and other groups that have lost their way and are doing the bidding of anti-life forces - but be very careful who you just trust.

Know that you'll always get the details and links to the original source documents as well as my analysis here for your independent verification and discernment especially when it comes to legislation and advocacy.

I found it interesting to read the threads for especially SB 1033 on Twitter and see how many pro-aborts were happy that bill died - at the hands of the Usual Suspects. How sad. How telling.

Charlie is absolutely correct when he says that there will be consequences for all of this.

Thanks for reading this update!



I'm going to keep this short. I'll be honest, I'm mad and that's not a good time to write a blog post, but I believe you all deserve to know what's going on since so many of you have been active in trying to get these bills set for a floor vote in the House and praying for these efforts here in Texas. And, I do try to be measured in what I write even if I am quite passionate about these issues and the obstacles we face to getting good pro-life legislation into law here in Texas. The bottom line is: 

SB 2089 and SB 1033 are dead.

My very politically astute and plugged in friend, Rich DeOtte had this to say about it:

There is a lot to the story as to why this happened. Suffice it to say that Texas House "leadership" killed all bills to which there was any opposition. 

Who were the opposition to SB 1033 and especially SB 2089? The Usual Suspects. Of course. You can read about all that here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

Make no mistake about it, lives will be lost because of the opposition to these bills and the failure of Republican leadership to be pro-life and ignore those who do not have the best interest of vulnerable Texans at heart. Clearly, we need:

Robust primaries in 2020; new leadership in 2021.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers for learning about and following these bills and the overall issue of involuntary passive euthanasia in Texas; praying for the passage of these bills; prayers for all involved (including the Usual Suspects who continue to need prayers); your donations to help Mrs. Jones and Texas Right to Life; your calls and emails to the powers that be to move these bills forward; and for bringing about awareness of these issues and the special problems that not-so-pro-life-Texas has. Please keep praying.

And that's all I've got to say about this. For now.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

UPDATED AGAIN 5.26.19: Mrs. Jones Has Been Transferred; Lessons to Be Learned from This Incident

LATEST UPDATE OF 5.26.19: Mrs. Jones continues to do well and make progress. With this in mind, consider what we have learned from this incident. See highlight below.


Prior post & updates:

See below for update & a call to action! 

From L-R: Mark Lee Dickson, Emily Cook, Mr. Jones, Kim Schwartz

Today is a great day!!!! Mrs. Jones was transported via private ambulance at Texas Right to Life's expense and will receive care at a long-term care facility.

Emily Cook, an excellent lawyer, someone I count as a friend, and who has been very much on the frontlines of this effort to save Mrs. Jones as the family's attorney posted this today on Facebook:

Praise Jesus. Thank you, Lord. God works in amazing ways. The rest of this post is worth the long read. It’s been a night & I’m glad to finally share this news.  
Carolyn Jones has left Memorial Hermann SW. and is receiving treatment at another Houston hospital! Really, in the middle of the night, she was taken by private ambulance to a different hospital’s ER. (I also have a new skill if you ever need a private ambulance 😁). It was our last hope, a Hail Mary. MH stood by their decision to refuse dialysis to Carolyn; dialysis treatment predating the stroke that landed Carolyn here in the first place. We have a long term facility in the works, but the paperwork had not been finished. Carolyn had been without dialysis since Saturday; she simply could not go one more day. No amount of money, no number of legislators calling the hospital had changed the hospital’s position. 
It was scary. And it was risky. But God showed up. I was worried about how would we know no funny business clinically would happen as we tried to move her? God brought a nurse practitioner as an ally, someone I had never met. I was worried about reception to our arrival at the ER. God brought the most sympathetic personnel to us.  
Amazingly, the ER agreed she should have dialysis. However, they were full. They instead found ANOTHER facility willing to accept her and give the dialysis. A legit transfer, not discharge and showing up to an ER. So that’s TWO facilities who disagreed that Carolyn’s life was not worth respecting. 
As I sat in her room, watching her move her head from family member to family member as they talked, to responding to commands, the urgency to save her only intensified.  
We still have the paperwork and funding to go through to get her to a long term facility pending Medicaid approval. But this picture on the left, that was the first page of my devotional this morning. How timely is our God?! ❤️ ❤️
Mark Lee Dickson and I have assisted each other in cases before, but it was always digital; phone calls, texts, messages. But he came to Houston and jumped into gear. And you all get to see the work Kim Schwartz does 😄
This is why I defend Texas Right to Life so vehemently. From the intern who ran to bring very tired family members a round of coffee, to our fearless President having zero qualms about calling an elected official at midnight when we thought we might have a problem at the ER. THIS is why Texas Right To Life is such a great organization; it’s the people. We pray first, and then get to work.  
&& also our families. Poor baby Andrew hasn’t seen much of his momma for a full week and he’s really showing “mommy withdrawals.”  
Meanwhile, my ER RN sister is glad we no longer share the same last name 😆😆 
Look, we are systemically encountering a culture that does not respect the intrinsic dignity of human Life. And as you see, such a deficit can impact areas of your life you never even considered. Folks should pass away when God calls us home; not by the hand of man.  
Please continue to support the Jones family by donating at the link below, demand lawmakers change the Ten Day Rule and pray for a successful transfer to the long term care facility.  

Let us rejoice and thank God for his great blessings and intervention. Many have given in response to the fundraisers and Texas Right to Life, especially Emily and Kim (another wonderful, dedicated  person) along with Mark Lee Dickson (who is also quite dedicated and who I must meet soon), have worked overtime to make this happen. Prayers have been answered - and I know many of us were praying! Thank you! 

Let's give thanks unto the Lord but let us learn from this. There are always lessons to be learned. 

In my prior post, I talked about why you cannot trust the Usual Suspects who advocate for TADA and against reform to it, including SB 2089, and gave some insight from the viewpoint of another author as to what makes them tick. These organizations ("the Usual Suspects") include Texas Alliance for Life ("TAL") and the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops ("TCCB") (with the notable exception of Bishop Emeritus Gracida) among a few others. In addition, I've posted at great length about why any of their arguments or justifications for support of this law/opposition to reforms are without merit and/or can be addressed by some means short of killing off the patient against their will by withdrawing their life-sustaining treatment.

But today, we have yet more evidence - if you need it - as to why you cannot listen to those who advocate for involuntary passive euthanasia no matter what their organizations are named or what their mission statements claim. TAL and its allies (intended) have consistently been wrong about the Carolyn Jones case - the latest high profile victim of TADA - and their credibility and the credibility of all they speak for should be firmly in shambles. Ignore them and the TCCB who has claimed that TAL speaks for them. Supporters of TADA made up facts or used assumptions or wishful thinking as to what they wanted the case to be to justify this heinous - in my opinion, it should be criminal - conduct on the part of Memorial Hermann (read on, their disgusting conduct just got worse). They put this disinformation and misinformation out on social media to try to kill SB 2089 which would prevent situations like this from happening.  

There was absolutely no justification for subjecting this woman to involuntary passive euthanasia; not that there ever is; but even by the Usual Suspects' justifications, there was none. There was no assertion that the care was ineffective or harming her. The truth is, it was working, that's why they wanted to withdraw it. And, the truth is, this woman was not at death's door. She survived without her ventilator from Monday at 2 p.m. until the wee hours of this morning. She survived without dialysis from last Saturday. 

There was to my knowledge - as usual - no assertion that any doctor's conscience was pricked by continuing care. Even if it was, I've always said the solution is transferring the patient, not killing her. I've always said that there are other doctors who would feel differently because not all doctors have the same conscience formation (some commit abortions, after all.) At least three different facilities had agreed to take her but money was the obstacle, not conscience. The proponents of TADA and opponents of any reforms to it, including SB 2089, posit that no such doctors can be found with different consciences (if they answer this question directly; usually they ignore it). Oh, really? Well, that's not true here - and it's not been true in other cases where transfers have been successful. That's a false argument, which our writer in my last post took to task as well. 

Note also how the care at the other facilities was provided immediately and note the vastly different attitude of the medical professionals there. Yes, it is true that not all medical professionals have the same conscience formation. I've long said there are some in the medical profession who simply have a eugenicist and euthanasia mindset. They want to decide whose lives are worth of living and who should be put down like a dog because they have no quality of life in these "professionals'" judgment. What a horrendous, dehumanizing, elitist viewpoint. I'll not have it! You shouldn't either. But it's in our law and supported by those who claim to be medical professionals, pro-life leaders, and clergy from the Roman Catholic Church. It's simply mind-boggling. More than that, it's dangerous to every Texan. 

Note - and I think this is very important - that TRTL offered to private pay a dialysis treatment and Memorial Hermann refused. Yet two more facilities last night concluded immediately that this woman needed emergency dialysis. 

So what are we to conclude; what have we learned here? 
That the doctor(s) who went to the medical ethics committed at MH were wrong that Mrs. Jones was futile or someone who should not be treated? Yes. That the medical ethics committee was also wrong in rubber stamping that decision? Yes. That this procedure does not yield infallible results? Absolutely. That maybe there's a bit of an outcome based decision-making process? That's fair. That once they make a decision, that even when it appears that they are wrong, we can't count on them to reverse course and do the right thing even when a life hangs in the balance? I think the facts here speak for themselves. That maybe there should be a longer timeframe so that mistakes like this are not made with more Texans? No doubt about it. That maybe if there was some due process in the law, a check and balance, that hospitals might be more careful and mistakes would not happen? Of course, that's why we have due process in the law when it comes to criminals. It should be here for the ill and disabled as well. 
I want to clarify a few things that have been flying around out there as well. Some were said by supporters of the Usual Suspects, some by people clearly in support of offing the ill or disabled prematurely, some...I can't even speculate as to their motives. 

It was claimed before by a pro-TADA individual last Sunday, a former board member of TAL, that the hospital was not going to withdraw care at all, despite the letter having already been given to the Jones family. Where this person got that I'll never know because MH said they were and then they did. And, when it became clear that she was not going to die, MH removed more care. And when Mrs. Jones continued to live, they continued to refuse to provide care. When more time went by without her receiving dialysis and TRTL offered to private pay a session, MH refused. This is how this law works. It simply cannot be justified or supported. 

It was also not true that the Jones family was refusing to transfer as had been speculated in particular by the same pro-TADA/pro-euthanasia active who spouted this all over the internet, again a former board member of TAL, which then promoted these inaccurate (I'll be charitable in a way that she was not to the Jones') writings on its Facebook page (and alleges it was to push an anti-life agenda).

From that blog post I don't find fit to link to:

That same person was claiming that Mrs. Jones was weaned off her vent based on her husband's testimony in favor of SB 2089 back in April. But, as you know, medical conditions can and do change. It was not accurate to insinuate that it was a lie to say that she was on a ventilator or to insinuate she had been permanently weaned and never needed the ventilator at all. MH said they were going to remove her vent as part of the withdrawal of her life-sustaining care. That's what they did. Obviously, if it was to be removed, she had not been weaned off of it permanently and needed it, right? 

It was also speculated by some that maybe this story was made up, a political ploy to serve TRTL's purposes, because doesn't Medicare have unlimited money for cases like this? Well, as it turns out Medicare is not covering this (those funds can run out, you know). Obviously, if there had been funding, she'd have been transferred already! Anyway, it should go without saying that each case has different facts and if you don't have all the information, it is dangerous to draw your own politically motivated conclusions as if you have some expertise in this case even if you did manage to get an MD. Again, beware of such people. Their politics and euthanasia promotion make them un-credible. The Jones' have not been approved for Medicaid, as the news has reported, and as their attorney has stated above. I think it is common knowledge that that takes time, but that has also been in the news.

I want you all to notice also that there is yet more proof that Mrs. Jones is responding to her family. I will not agree that even an unconscious patient should have their life-sustaining care withdrawn against their or their family's will, but I have now twice in the last few years seen highly publicized cases where the intent was to use TADA on a conscious patient asking for care to be continued and the pro-TADA forces justified the usage of the law (and in this case, went so far as to blame the family and accuse them of refusing to transfer their patient!), including the Usual Suspects. Surely, when the patient is conscious and the care is not doing them harm, but actually working, that would make even some sympathetic to euthanasia pause. Apparently not. That should tell you all you need to know. 

The bottom line is that Texas Right to Life - the only real pro-life organization in this state and the only one that helps families navigate this process as you can see from above - worked overtime to get this woman to safety and proper care and even provided funding! Remember, under the statute, families are responsible for covering the cost of transferring their patient. (See Sec. 166.052(a)(4) of the Texas Health & Safety Code, where TADA is found.)

TAL, the TCCB, and others, opposed SB 2089 which would prevent this from happening to other families. Did you see them raise funds for Mrs. Jones? I did not. Did the Usual Suspects put aside their differences with TRTL and work together to help TRTL help this family? But TAL is pro-life. The TCCB is a Catholic organization and the RCC has taught that we are to help the poor and the least among us. What gives? What gives indeedBy their fruits, you will know them. All of them.

Remember, the Usual Suspects are always going on about how they are trying to fix the law they support and don't want weakened (you see the inconsistency don't you?) and it's the unreasonable people at TRTL that get in the way. That's absurd! Don't believe them. 

By the way, have you seen them supporting SB 2089 which has been amended to 45 days - remember they claimed their biggest issue was "indefinite" treatment in SB 2089? Yeah, I didn't think so. Neither have I.  

I think we know who is really pushing the anti-life agenda

We can't split the baby when it comes to abortion legislation and we can't split the ill, disabled, and elderly when it comes to TADA legislation. There is only so far compromise can go before too many lives are still lost and then what's the point? It's fine to say "Can't we all get along?" in an accusatory way. But when the rubber meets the road, who's really putting their time, money, and talents where their mouths are to help those who are victimized? You can see that here clearly. By their fruits, you will know them. All of them.

Thanks to everyone who donated, prayed, and helped spread the word. This is what real pro-life activism and Christianity is all about...helping the least among us. Remember, Texas Right to Life depends on donations - that's where this money comes from. So, please, consider directing regular donations to them so they have what they need to keep saving lives.  

Let's be grateful for today but the work here is not done. There are others who will be subjected to this law if it is not changed. The time is now. SB 2089 has still not been scheduled for a floor vote in the House. Let us continue to pray and please do contact your State Representatives and ask them to support SB 2089 and SB 1033 (the PreBorn Non-Discrimination Act). It's easy if you use this form

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: Texas Alliance for Life has now officially come out against SB 2089 as it exists in the House, that is, the amended version that gives patients 45 days to find a new facility before a hospital may legally withdraw their life-sustaining care against their will. This is not surpassing or shocking to me, but you need to see that even in light of the Jones debacle - which should, if nothing else has - show you how horrendous this law is in practice, they cannot change positions to a truly pro-life one. 

TAL is not a pro-life organization. It supports euthanasia - involuntary euthanasia. Do not listen to it or its leader or anyone associated with it. Oppose them. 

The only harm that was coming to Mrs. Jones was the utilization of this law by Memorial Hermann. It is unconscionable that an organization that proclaims itself pro-life would justify what was going on there and oppose the bill that would prevent it from happening to others. 

Let me be clear about something: 


I'd ask you to call the members of the Calendars Committee who are the ones who decide what gets a floor vote. Call the following and ask them to set SB 2089 (and SB 1033) for a vote on the House floor immediately. Be truly pro-life. 

Thanks for reading this update!