Texas Right to Life has sued Houston Methodist Hospital on behalf of a patient after an ethics committee determined that further efforts to sustain his life would only prolong his suffering.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the organization filed the suit Nov. 30 on behalf of 46-year-old patient Chris Dunn. The lawsuit claims that the Texas Advanced Directives Act, a statute that set up the ethics committee procedure, deprives patients of due process rights.
Joe Nixon, an attorney for the organization, says "The decision of the committee is final, unreviewable and non-appealable."
Dunn was taken to Houston Methodist in October and court documents say he was diagnosed with an end-stage liver disease, gastric obstruction, a malignant pancreatic mass, respiratory failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. An ethics committee convened and decided that life sustaining treatment was medically inappropriate.
Texas Right to Life wants the hospital to keep Dunn on a breathing machine and continue to provide medical care.
Dunn's mother, Evelyn Kelly, says she asked doctors to perform more procedures on her son, but they told her Dunn was too sick. She says she believes that their decision was based on her son's lack of insurance and inability to pay for his care.
The hospital denied that claim.
"This has absolutely nothing to do with insurance," hospital spokeswoman Stefanie Asin said.
A judge has twice temporarily blocked termination of Dunn's treatment. Kelly said his lungs were filling with liquid after nearly two months on a ventilator, and he was growing sicker despite the equipment.
Hospital spokesman George Kovacik told The Associated Press that it is working with the courts to get guidance on who has legal guardianship of Dunn.