Bioethics Blogs

Simon’s Law in Missouri Would Require “Written Permission” to Stop Life-Sustaining Treatment

Ordained Christian minister and Missouri state representative Bill Kidd has introduced H.B. 113.  It contains two main provisions.

The first provision is uncontroversial.  It is a futility policy disclosure rule that mirrors recent laws in Michigan and obligations already binding on all U.S. hospitals under the PSDA.

“Upon the request of a patient or resident or a prospective patient or resident, a health care facility, nursing home, or physician shall disclose in writing any policies relating to a patient or resident or the services a patient or resident may receive involving life-sustaining or non-beneficial treatment within the health care facility or agency.”

“Upon admission and upon request, if the patient or resident or prospective patient or resident is a minor child or minor ward, the health care facility, nursing home or physician in charge shall provide in writing the policies described in subsection of this section to at least one parent or legal guardian of the patient or resident or prospective patient or resident.”

More controversially, the bill also follows Idaho and Oklahoma in always requiring consent to stop life-sustaining treatment.  But in contrast to those other states, the Missouri bill is focused on only treatment of children.

“No health care facility, nursing home, physician, nurse, or medical staff shall withhold life-sustaining procedures, food, medication, or nutrition, nor place any restrictions on life-sustaining procedures including, but not limited to, food, medication, or nutrition for any minor patient, resident, or ward without the written permission of at least one parent or legal guardian of the minor patient or ward.”

“No do-not-resuscitate order or similar physician’s order shall be instituted either orally or in writing without the written permission of at least one parent or legal guardian of the minor patient or resident or prospective minor patient or resident.”

“Nothing in this section shall require a health care facility, nursing home, or physician to have a written policy relating to or involving life-sustaining or non-beneficial treatment for minor or adult patients, residents, or wards.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.