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Texas’ Futile-Treatment Law challenged

Posted Apr 11, 2007 10:41 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyers for 17-month-old Emilio Gonzales persuaded a Texas judge yesterday to order an extension of life support for the terminally ill child.

A Texas hospital wants to shut off the boy’s respirator under a state law that allows hospitals to withdraw care that is “medically futile,” the Washington Post reports.

Gonzales suffers from a terminal neurometabolic disorder called Leigh's disease and is deaf and blind.

Texas is one of only two states—Virginia is the other—with laws that allow hospitals to withdraw treatment within a set time frame after an ethics committee declares care to be futile. In the interim, a guardian may look for another facility for the patient.

"Texas has the worst law in the country because the families have no recourse," says Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life. She says that in Texas, doctors only provide treatment for 10 days, and if there's no transfer, "they pull the plug."

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