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May 17, 2005

Progress in Louisiana

Topics: Legislative Action Items

House committee OKs bill to restrict removal of feeding tubes

(House Bill 675)

A House committee approved a bill Monday that would restrict families' ability to remove a feeding tube from a terminal patient, despite objections that the measure would force many people with living wills to rewrite them.

Under current law, the term "life support" in living wills includes such tubes - they can be removed if that is the doctors' recommendation, family members agree and the patient's living will indicated that he did not want to be kept alive on life support.

Under Rep. Gary Beard's bill, the tubes would not be considered "life support." People whose living wills don't make a distinction between life support and feeding tubes would have to be kept alive with the tubes, even if their living will says a patient does not want to be kept alive on life support.

more here

Posted by tim at May 17, 2005 12:50 AM


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Comments

This is a pretty obvious publicity stunt and will only cause MORE Schiavo-like cases when it comes to the will of the person. Wrong direction entirely.

"A House committee approved a bill Monday that would restrict families' ability to remove a feeding tube from a terminal patient, despite objections that the measure would force many people with living wills to rewrite them.

...

"Under Rep. Gary Beard's bill, the tubes would not be considered 'life support.' People whose living wills don't make a distinction between life support and feeding tubes would have to be kept alive with the tubes, even if their living will says a patient does not want to be kept alive on life support."

Short version: If you are brain damaged and the wording of your will has not been changed, the state will force you to stay on the feeding tube and nobody can do a thing about it.

The polar opposite of what we should be seeing.

Posted by: FishyFred at May 17, 2005 2:36 PM

MMMM HMMM and what about people with feeding tubes who AREN'T terminal? (like Terri wasn't for instance?). Where are they mentioned in this proposed law? I think we need to contact LA Rep Gary Beard and let him know if his aim is not to have a 'Terri Schaivo case' happen in LA, he needs to include wording that stops the removal of feeding tubes from ALL people who are alive, whether terminal, brain damanged or whatever their diagnosis.

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at May 17, 2005 3:08 PM

Fred, unless I'm just misunderstanding you, I don't think you'll find much sympathy for your perspective around this blog. We think people shouldn't be dehydrated to death, and most of us (I think I can say confidently) don't get too het up about being "forced" to stay on a feeding tube. If someone is so out of it that he can't speak for himself, yes, it's _good_ to presume he wouldn't want to suffer the horrors of death by dehydration. It's bad enough that he can (probably without sufficient information) write ahead of time and refuse a feeding tube. Frankly, I think we should protect people against that kind of suicide anyway, but at least this tries to protect people who have lumped feeding tubes with "life support," where they _don't_ belong. If they are so concerned to be killed by dehydration later, they can get themselves in gear and go re-write their living wills to name hydration and food explicitly as things they reject. And if it makes some people re-think and saves some lives, so much the better.

Anna--I think probably Louisiana law _already_ only refers to people said to be "terminal." So in other words, _supposedly_ only "terminal" people are at risk anyway, and the doctors of someone like Terri would have to lie and say she was "terminal" (as someone had to do to get her into hospice anyway). So probably that's why that word is in there, not because they don't want to protect non-terminal people. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong on this, but a lot of that stuff goes on, where people are told that only "terminal" people will be dehydrated to death anyway.

Similarly, some of the protective legislation like Terri's Law in Florida only applied to people "in a PVS." Terri probably _wasn't_, but she'd been _declared_ to be, so that's why the legislation named that. The idea is "fine, you're gonna say people who are terminal or in a PVS or whatever can be dehydrated to death, then we'll write protective legislation specifically for those people."

Posted by: Lydia at May 19, 2005 10:07 AM

I wasn't pushing any perspective. I was simply pointing out that this particular law is overly draconian. It's the first step to taking the decision out of the rightful hands of the family. If there is going to be a split in the family, then there will probably be an ugly mess in the courts. I don't condone a law that takes away your rights just to avoid a few conflicts that were probably going to happen anyway.

Let's say that ten or so years in the future, there IS a law that puts the decision in the hands of the state and the family of person X agrees that person X would not want to be kept alive by a feeding tube. That family might be SOL and they would be wondering where their freedom went.

Posted by: FishyFred at May 19, 2005 1:57 PM