This piece of legislation was submitted by Representative Martin Scott and co-authored by Rep. Tim Bearden and Rep. Mark Butler. It has been registered in the clerk’s office, but will not receive its first reading and assignment to a committee until Tuesday (Feb. 16th) when the session reconvenes.
This legislation seeks to insure that no patient shall be denied food and hydration. It has been brought to the attention of Georgia Right to Life and our Legislature that there have been cases where patients have been denied basic food and hydration in order to speed up the dying process.
As all of you know, GRTL is firmly against euthanasia. We believe that the unnecessary withdrawal of food and hydration ranks among what should be called “cruel and unusual punishment.” We are living in a day when it is illegal for even an animal to be denied food and water! If this is true for animals, then how much more should this be true for human beings?
Attorney David Gibbs has been very helpful in counseling us on this very important piece of legislation. Many of you may remember Mr. Gibbs from the Terri Schiavo case a number of years ago. This bill seeks, among other things, to establish the fact that the feeding tube should be considered ordinary care, not medical care. It should be considered ordinary care just like a cafeteria tray is necessary in bringing lunch to a patient.
The bill does allow for exceptions under an advanced directive. Most Georgians do not realize that there is a loophole in Georgia law right now regarding advanced directives. An advanced directive is a document that states what medical procedures you want done in case you have a serious illness or accident and are unable to speak for yourself. However, Georgia allows physicians or administrators to override the wishes or desires of an advanced directive! Please pray that we can begin to close such a loophole.
Two weeks ago Rep. Ed Lindsey and Rep. Wendell Willard introduced legislation (H.B. 999) in an attempt to overhaul much of the language regarding advance directives and portable medical orders However, many pro-life experts have interpreted this legislation as being a forerunner to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. It is our understanding that much of the language in this bill came from parties that are not interested in seeing life preserved, but seeing it end more quickly. There will be a hearing Monday (Feb. 15th) to try to amend and improve H.B. 999 with language from H.B. 1178. There should be some interesting conversation at that hearing.