“Death Panels” – The Lie Half Way Round The World

April 1, 2014

UPDATE: Terry Mace, man at center of life-support fight, dies – 1 April 2014

"A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
“A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

What Lie?

A candidate jockeying to win Texas’ SD-2 senate seat repeatedly claims SB 303, a bill authored by Dr. Bob Deuell, provides for “death panels“. This ignorant claim brings to mind something Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.

There is a little one must know, if one wishes to have the facts on his or her side.

It’s a Fact

  • Under present law, hospitals can remove life supports within 10 days, if an alternate care facility cannot be found.
  • All Texas pro-life groups signed off on do not resuscitate (DNR) procedures in 1999 and 2007 – Now some oppose, in large part for pecuniary reasons.
  • Dr. Deuell authored a bill, SB 303, that extended 10 days to 28, thereby providing more time to relocate a patient to an extended care facility.
  • SB 303 also simplified matters for family and legal guardians in that they can participate in the disposition of the patient without going to court.

Case in Point – Terry Mace

Extract from ABC News: Parents Win Fight Against Daughter-in-Law to Keep Son on Life Support

“Former Army Staff Sgt. Terry Mace, 43, collapsed of a heart attack while talking to a friend at his home in Killeen, Texas, March 6. He was hospitalized shortly after and was initially unresponsive, Mace’s father’s attorney, Stephen Casey, said. Mace has been at the center of a legal battle between his father, Terry Mace Sr., who is fighting to keep him on life support, and his estranged wife, who has attempted to terminate it.”

Terry’s dad persuaded a judge to award the father temporary guardianship, thereby preventing Terry’s premature death, as his wife wanted. Terry was lucky. Far too many are not. Terry Mace is now recovering. But, his story could have ended the way another’s did nine years ago.

Consider the case of Teresa Marie “Terri” Schiavo who languished through a 12-year court battle before her husband won. Her parents wanted to take full responsibility for her. Her husband wanted her dead. Husband won and he directed the hospital to remove her feeding tube. Over the next several days, that Terri starved to death. Read: The Whole Terri Schiavo Story

How Would SB 303 Have Changed Things?

Terry’s dad would have needed only to go to the hospital, instead of having to hire a lawyer and go before a judge. His dad would have been able to acquire his son’s medical records and had more time to find an alternative facility.  The hospital would have been required to administer nutrition and hydration unless they further harmed Terry.

Bob Hall’s campaign ignorantly labels hospital ethics committees that have been around for years “death panels” as though Dr. Deuell’s SB 303 was crafting something sinister and unusual.

For example, Parkland Hospital’s ethics committee incorporates doctors, nurses, social workers, religious and spiritual leaders, administrators (managers), lawyers, and people from the community, thereby assuring broad interests served on behalf of patients and all parties involved.

This committee helps patients and health care providers think about, talk about, and make choices at times when there are questions about values, beliefs, or choosing the right thing to do. ” – Parkland website

 My Choice For Senate District 2

I voted for Dr. Bob Deuell in the primary. I’ll vote for him in the runoff election, May 27 and I invite you to vote likewise.

For more information about my choice, check out Dr. Deuell’s campaign website at http://bobdeuell.org/ 

I invite you to follow Senator Deuell on Facebook and Twitter.

John White


13 thoughts on ““Death Panels” – The Lie Half Way Round The World

    1. Bobby Schindler, like you, hasn’t read current Texas law. Every story sounds true, until you get all the facts. Current law only requires a hospital to keep alive the vegetative patient 10 days. Here’s the law: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HS/htm/HS.166.htm

      Most recently, Terry Mace’s dad had to get a court order to gain temporary custody of his son. If SB 303 had become law, all Mr. Mace would need to do is show up at the hospital to express his will.

      SB 303 would have done two major things for the patient: (1) it would have extended the DNR period from 10 days to 28 days, and (2) it would have required hospitals to due diligence to locate family or guardian before exercising end of life.

      Ignorance of the bill and ignorance of current state law do not a good outcome make.

      Scorecard voters remain at serious disadvantage in that they depend on someone’s opinion, most often an agenda, when voting.

      I prefer the more difficult path of actually reading bills and studying law. It’s also helpful to research history.

      The vast majority of Nazi-era Germans were the modern-day equivalent of American scorecard voters.

      1. Sir, I am an attorney who not only read the bill and the current law, I also testified against it in committee, and wrote extensively about it at the time. I am amused that you accuse me of not having read the bill, of being ignorant, and of being a “scorecard voter”, when you thought the bill had become law and saved Mr. Mace’s life.*

        I provided in-depth analysis here:





        Moreover, Bobby Schindler read the bill as he made clear in the link I posted above, where he said: “I have studied the legislation, and remain vehemently opposed to that bill.” But the accusation that those against the bill must not have read it despite evidence to the contrary was a major talking point by those pushing this passive euthanasia last year.

        Here is the link again to Mr. Schindler’s letter: http://abyssum.org/2013/05/02/terri-schiavos-brother-bobby-schindler-speaks-out-in-opposition-to-sb303/

        If you actually read what I wrote about the bill – wherein I analyze the actual language of it, rather than the talking points by its promoters (or opponents, for that matter) – and do so with an open mind – you will find that what you claim the bill would have done simply is not the case. See esp. the posts I wrote about the lack of due process (the 3rd link above) and the analysis of the bill language itself (the 1st link above).

        Moreover, the final version of the bill offered after the final House Committee hearing, actually reduced the number of days back down to 21.

        I agree that the current law is an abomination, but SB 303 was not going to make it better and I explained why in great detail. The law needs a major overhaul which is being hampered by those most closely associated with SB 303.

        *Regarding Mr. Mace, his attorneys say this: “The lawyers told KVUE on Tuesday they believe the hospital didn’t explain ‘comfort care’ to the family properly, and if they had known his tubes would be taken out, they would have gone back to court to have them reinstated.” The hospital tricked the family into agreeing to seek passive euthanasia for him, for which “comfort care” is a known euphemism. SB 303, even given your description of it, had it become law, would not have helped in this situation. Had Mr. Mace’s family been represented by those familiar with navigating the tricky hospital ethics committees and personnel, perhaps this could have been avoided. As you may be aware, there is only one pro-life group in Texas which provides this assistance free of charge and that is Texas Right to Life.


        With regard to you saying: “I prefer the more difficult path of actually reading bills and studying law. It’s also helpful to research history.” So do I. As any objective individual can see, *I* actually did go through the difficult path of reading the law and the bill, of writing about it, of testifying about it, and my efforts on this front continue. As for history, I have looked to the history of how TADA has been used by hospitals and doctors to inform my decisions here coupled with my analysis of the law. I am also looking to how other countries are using language very much like what we see in TADA and among its supporters to further the euthanasia agenda. We can learn from that as well and hopefully prevent sliding further down this slippery slope.

  1. Also, SB 303 was a bill that died in committee. It never became law. Therefore, it can have no legal effect and cannot be responsible for the results in the Mace Case. Read more about what SB 303 would have done – that is, make existing law worse than it already is – here by other authors: http://abyssum.org/?s=SB+303+

    1. Thank you Kassi for clearing up this information. Bob Duell is no friend to life. Hall is the much better candidate.

    2. Kassi, I suggest you read the bill for yourself and study current law, as I did. If you were to do so, you would discover how SB 303 was a true pro-life bill that was defeated by an ambitious political agenda.

      1. How is the withdrawal of food and water prolife? How is it prolife to end the life of another, terminal or not?

  2. See my post above where I did read the bill and the current law and then provided in-depth, timely analysis at the time.

  3. Well never mind. I see you that my comment which began “Sir, I am an attorney who not only read the bill and the current law, I also testified against it in committee, and wrote extensively about it at the time. I am amused that you accuse me of not having read the bill, of being ignorant, and of being a “scorecard voter”, when you thought the bill had become law and saved Mr. Mace’s life” will not be approved. It provided a number of links to my analysis of the actual bill language. So be it. Par for the course. People can go to abyssum.org and search my name and SB 303 and find that info. as well as a host of other posts by other writers, including ethicists, about how wrong SB 303 was. People can also go to the prior link I posted by Bobby Schindler and see that he, too, actually read the bill which he said, contrary to your allegations.

  4. How would 303 simplify anything? The decision on life and death is still in the hands of a committee, against the wishes of the patient. It would have not fixed the problem of denying the most basic of sustenance, food and water. Deuell did nothing to fix the dehydration problem. How is this not back door euthanasia when left to a committee? I would not want to be in this shape in Texas hospitals. You are misleading the people in your city.

    1. That end of life decision has customarily and practically always been in the hands of the ethics committee. No one person makes an end of life decision. Typically, if one member of the ethics committee disagrees, life support continues. This isn’t a new practice, Lucy. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      1. Don’t you think that needs to change? 1999 is relatively recent, in the span of time. Since when has it been acceptable for a committee to make decisions on life and death on behalf of another? What moral ground is there for starving someone to death by not giving them food and water? Please tell me how this is not backdoor euthanasia?

      2. It’s always been the case, Lucy. That’s why Dr. Deuell introduced SB 303. It passed the Senate, but not the House.

        If passed into law, SB 303 “would have added much needed changes to the law. Reforms included ensuring that nutrition and hydration could not be withdrawn from a patient, unless such treatment would harm the patient, and increasing the amount of time a family has to transfer a patient from a hospital that refuses care.” (I copied text already written)

        Under present law, hospitals have more say so over end of life decisions than do families. Also, current Texas law has only ten days to act, if a family wishes to get a lawyer and go to a judge to gain temporary custody.

        If you remember Hurricane Katrina, you may know what nurses did when the hospital lost all power: they injected lethal doses of pain killers into the patients and that was legal, as it is in many states. SB 303 would have empowered families and legal guardians.

        SB 303 would have made “back door euthanasia” significantly more difficult.

        I genuinely appreciate your questions and comments. We need people to ask questions, instead of following the misleadings of groups with a political agenda.

        I added a new blog moments ago addressing misdirected voter guides. If you read it, you’ll discern that I am an old man who saw similar tactics back in the 70’s.

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