Over the past few days, we’ve gotten quite a few questions from people about SB 165, legislation establishing a MOLST, or Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. There is some disagreement among prolife organizations when it comes to the legislation, with organizations like Ohio Right to Life, the Catholic Conference, and the Catholic Diocese of Columbus’ Office of Social Concerns remaining neutral while others, such as Toledo, Cincinatti, and Cleveland Right to Life organizations, Citizens for Community Values, and the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Foundation opposed to the legislation. The organizations opposing the legislation have also pointed to other groups, such as the Catholic Medical Association that generally oppose MOLST-type legislation but that have not weighed in on the bill.
As an organization operating as a 501c(3), Greater Columbus Right to Life does not think that it is appropriate for us to weigh in on a specific piece of legislation. However, we are rightly concerned with the ethics of end-of-life decision making, and we can see that the debate on the subject has left many of our volunteers and friends a bit confused.
For those who are interested, the non-partisan Legislative Services Commission has copies of the legislation, its summary, and its fiscal note available online. You can also read the statement from Ohio Right to Life on why they remain neutral on the bill, and you can read a letter from the above-described coalition of pro-life organizations opposed to the legislation. You can also read testimony from the legislative hearings on SB 165 by visiting the Civil Justice Committee's page. To read the testimony you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the “Committee Documents” page. The most recent hearings where SB 165 was discussed were April 27, April 20, and December 8 (2015). By clicking on those tabs, you can open copies of the testimony. If, after reading them, you would like to contact your legislator, you can do so.
We do think that this is a good opportunity to talk about the difference between medical directives and health care proxies. Medical directives – be they DNR or MOLST or POLST, are often considered to be ethically questionable. As a pro-life person, we strongly encourage that you forgo both DNR and traditional “living will” forms and instead obtain a durable healthcare power of attorney that authorizes a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer capable. One of our goals for 2016 is to develop a more robust education and advocacy program on end-of-life care and decision making for the central Ohio community. We have quite a few resources available on our website (click on the “end of life” tab), and will continue to develop that part of our page. We are also getting ready to announce some upcoming educational opportunities on end-of-life ethics and care. If this is something that interests you and you’d like to volunteer with that effort, please let us know.
We hope that this helps to sort out some of the confusion on SB 165 and helps you to form an opinion on if it is more appropriate to be neutral or opposed as a pro-life person.