Thursday, February 18, 2010

Georgia Files Bill to Strengthen Patient's Rights

Terri Schiavo case

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ATLANTA, Feb. 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- This past week H.B. 1178 "The Patient's Right to Nutrition and Hydration Act" was introduced in the Georgia House by Representative Martin Scott and co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Bearden and Rep. Mark Butler to help provide more protections for Georgian citizens in end of life care.

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.

Mike Griffin, Legislative Director of GRTL noted, "We live in a time where it is illegal to deny a dog or cat food or water, but it is legal to deny a person food and water. We must value every person's life, especially in the final moments of life."

Attorney David Gibbs, counsel for the Schindler family in the Terri Schiavo case, has provided legal counsel on this bill. Mr. Gibbs noted, "Food and water should not be considered 'life support,' in my opinion. If this bill is passed into law, Georgia would recognize that important distinction to protect its citizens."

This bill seeks, among other things, to establish the fact that the feeding tube should be considered ordinary care, not medical care. The bill does allow for exceptions under an advanced directive. Currently in Georgia physicians and administrators can override a patient's wishes in an advanced directive.

"Ultimately, this bill seeks to strengthen patient's rights in Georgia. Under existing law, a doctor can override a patient's desires to have the basic essentials of food and water. No medical establishment should take away the right from a patient or their family the right to make the very private and tough decisions about end of life care," stated Dan Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life.

Georgia Right to Life promotes respect and effective legal protection for all human life from its earliest biological beginning through natural death. GRTL is one of the number of organizations that have adopted Personhood as the most effective pro-life strategy for the 21st century.