A very important bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, was approved yesterday by the Idaho Senate on a vote of 24-10. SB1348 provides new protections for the sick and elderly by making it specifically illegal to withdraw food, water or medication from a patient unless that patient has specifically directed a hospital or doctor to do so under the provisions of a Living Will.
This legislation will help to prevent medical staff or hospice care directors from deciding that a patient should be pushed toward death because their life is "no longer worth living". And it changes the status of food and hydration as some kind of extraordinary medical treatment on a plane with mechanical breathing aids.
The bill also removes the ability of medical staff to impose their own philosophical beliefs upon a patient. Using federal language, SB1348 prohibits discrimination against the disabled in providing care and requires that doctors use a more objective standard in determining which treatments to provide to disabled or elderly patients. The language of this proposed law could be of critical importance should the Obama Administration's goal of rationed medicine be realized.
We have sought for some time to fix current law, which allows a doctor to deny medical treatment to a patient when they determine it is "medically inappropriate" or "futile". Since those terms are presently undefined, medical staff with a bent toward "duty to die" ethics have a fairly wide latitude to impose their philosophy on patients unable to protect themselves.
All Senate Democrats voted against the legislation. They were joined by three Republicans: Joyce Broadsword (Sagle), Dan Johnson (Lewiston) and Tim Corder (Mountain Home).
SB1348 now goes to the House, where efforts will be led by Rep. Erik Simpson.
Our sincere thanks to Sen. Nuxoll, Senate Leadership and Sen. Curt McKenzie for facilitating the movement of this important pro-Life bill.