Saturday, April 20, 2019

TADA Amendment Testimony: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part I

I'm going to end my report about the testimony on pro-life bills heard on April 10, 2019, with a two-part series I'm calling "TADA Amendment Testimony: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." I want to start with the good. I want you to understand how others, experts in this area, see Texas' law.

In my prior post about the TADA amendments (Texas Advance Directives Act; specifically at issue is Section 166.046), I said I was going to present the testimonies of Wesley J. Smith and Bobby Schindler, each of whom traveled from across the country to come give a few minutes of testimony to help Texas fix its mess. They think it's that important - not just for Texas, but nationally. 

Wesley Smith was "invited testimony" so he was allowed more time to testify when the bills were "begin laid out" earlier in the day. Please listen carefully to it. Note that he addresses this in a secular way and with recourse to bioethics. Note especially his poignant point that this life-sustaining care is not being stopped because it is not working; rather, it is being stopped because it is working. When he put it that way, I had one of those lightbulb moments. Yes, of course, that's the case. But the manner in which he stated it, made it so incredibly powerful. Take a moment and ponder that. Then think about it when I post Part II of this series. 

Smith notes that Texas has the weakest - worst - law with regard to patient protection and patient rights to make their own decisions in this matter. Other states have a two-way street in terms of the decision-making process. In Texas, as he noted, the patient has a right to refuse case, but if the patient wants care, he has no right to that if the doctor refuses. Again, ponder this when you get to Part II in this series and see what a supporter of TADA and opponent of these basic, common sense reforms has to say - and how he said it.

Bobby Schindler also provided powerful testimony. He is, of course, the brother of Terri Schiavo who was starved to death over the course of nearly two weeks by her husband with the benefit of a court order. It's horrifying. It turned him into a patient advocate. A powerful one. 

He talks as one who works on these issues nationally. He sees how it is everywhere. Texas is the worst. "Pro-life" Texas is the worst, people! And, certain individuals, organizations, and clergy who call themselves pro-life support this law. It's just unfathomable to me and to many others (and, I'm happy to say to an increasing number of many others). 

Both Smith and Schindler have been very faithful in coming to Texas repeatedly to work on efforts to reform this law as well as to educate people about these issues. I am grateful to them as I know so many are. 

As a personal note, both have been among my pro-life heroes for many years. I met Schindler briefly in January at the Boots on the Ground conference, but we did not have much opportunity to speak. I got to speak with him at length on April 10. I am so grateful for his work nationally and internationally. It is so important. There is such a need.

It was also a great treat to meet Wesley J. Smith. He is also an Orthodox convert and I'm grateful to him for his many years of clear, cogent writing on these issues. We need strong leadership and powerful writing and advocacy like his.

Before I end this post, let me make a point that I think you need to consider as well. Since I have been going to Austin to testify for or against legislation on this issue, I have been constantly amazed at the number of people who come and do likewise or register their position on the bills. It is always a landslide in our favor. Not only that, when there are people of the caliber of Smith and Schindler dropping everything to come running to Texas to help on an issue, that warrants notice. NO, I am not advocating the bandwagon fallacy here. But I am pointing out that not only by ones fruits will you know them, but also by their allies and the company they keep. Note how many families testify each time. I cannot link to each individual testimony, so I provided a link to the entire proceeding in my first post. Watch it all if you can. Look at those families. Listen to their experience. As I said before:

Significantly, what did not happen here is that there were not dozens of families testifying about how great it was when TADA was used to pull their family members' plugs against their will. No affected person got up to say how that denial of due process was the highlight of their lives and how they hope others go through the same. All you had were the usual suspects testifying against these due process and patients' rights reform efforts: Texas Alliance for Life, Dr. Robert Fine, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association, some Catholic hospital ethicist guy who works for Christus, an attorney for those who submitted the Amici Brief in support of Methodist Hospital, etc. In other words, those who are paid to support this law in some fashion or who benefit financially from it or its existence and those who - by the words they chose to describe their view of patients and, especially Catholic Church teaching - betray what can only be characterized as a euthanasia mentality and dehumanizing view of ill and disabled individuals.

Finally, I have been remiss in not thanking both Senator Hughes for his authorship of SB 2089 (and to the co-sponsors Senator Hall and Senator Perry) as well as and Senator Creighton for his authorship of SB 2129

So far, there has not been a vote on these bills in the committee. I am prayerful and hopeful that that will change soon. I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading!