SPONSOR:   

Rep. Ewing;

 

Reps. Hocker, Outten

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

144th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 75

 

 

ESTABLISHING PROTECTIONS FOR PERSONS WITH SEVERE BRAIN INJURY, IMPAIRED CONSCIOUSNESS, OR WHO ARE OTHEREWISE MENTALLY DISABLED.

 


 


WHEREAS, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that “everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law” and that “all are equal before the law”; and

WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act clearly identifies the rights of the disabled to access essential  needs and have essential services provided to them; and

WHEREAS, it is becoming increasingly apparent that persons who are suffering from severe brain injuries often have cognitive functions significantly beyond what medical science previously estimated; and

WHEREAS, it is also becoming increasingly apparent that the diagnosis of “persistent vegetative state” or “PVS” is a category that recent science shows is far more uncertain and overly broad than had been previously thought, including a high rate of misdiagnoses of PVS patients who have not been able to exhibit responses, but whose consciousness can now sometimes be measured with medical advances such as neuroimaging and drug treatment.

NOW THEREFORE:

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the 144th General Assembly of the State of Delaware that it is against the public policy of this State and this State’s interest in life, health and safety, for hydration and nutrition that is not harming a patient to be involuntarily removed from a non-terminal, apparently brain-incapacitated patient if doing so will cause the individual’s death.  Furthermore, such withholding of hydration and nutrition without:  1) clear written direction from a legally competent patient or, 2) a valid written advance health-care directive that was previously executed by a patient who is now incapacitated and that either allows such withholding under such circumstances or grants an agent authority to make that decision by an incapacitated patient is also against the public policy of the State of Delaware.


 

SYNOPSIS

This Resolution establishes protections for mentally disabled individuals in the State of Delaware.  The impetus for this Resolution comes from the case of Lauren Richardson, a 24-year-old Delaware woman who, after suffering brain injuries and impaired consciousness, now faces the possible removal of her nutrition and hydration, despite the absence of her clearly specified and legal consent to any such a course of action. The State of Delaware has, through recent legislation prompted by the abuses at the Delaware Psychiatric Center, endeavored to protect the rights of mentally disabled patients in the First State.  Lauren, as a mentally disabled person, is enumerated those same protection and rights.