Maine Legislation Would Mandate Written Consent before Stopping Life-sustaining Treatment

Four months ago, I blogged about Simon’s Law, a bill that was introduced in Missouri to prohibit the unilateral withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment from children like Simon Crosier, a baby born with Trisomy 18.

The bill would make Missouri a “red light” state like Ontario, Idaho, New York, and Oklahoma.  In contrast, California, Texas, and Virginia are “green light” states in that they specifically permit clinicians to stop treatment (even over family objections) when they determine it is inappropriate.

This week, state Senator Cushing introduced L.D. 1117, a nearly identical bill in Maine.  The Maine bill authorizes a physician to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment for a minor or institute a do-not-resuscitate order for a minor only if the authorized legal surrogate for the minor gives direction in writing. 

“A physician may withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment for a minor, institute a do-not-resuscitate order for a minor or take other action that is more likely than not to lead to severe physical harm or death of a minor only if the authorized legal surrogate for the minor gives direction in writing.”

“Before giving a direction under this subsection, the authorized legal surrogate shall consult with the minor’s attending physician and follow all procedures required by the health care facility. The authorized legal surrogate shall also obtain a 2nd opinion from another physician with adequate expertise and experience of the minor’s diagnosis, prognosis and risks and the probable result of the proposed action and available alternatives. The authorized legal surrogate may rescind the direction at any time by a communication, which takes effect upon receipt, to the attending physician or health care facility.”

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.