Pro Life Protest

Emily Cook on Texas Right to Life, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and Futile Care Protocols

Wesley J. Smith
Emily Cook
Audio File (87.28M)

The usual canard about the pro-life movement goes something like this: “Pro-lifers care so much about babies before they are born, but not much after.

The thing about canards is that, by definition, they are not true. Pro-lifers also work hard to protect the lives of born people—often in coalition with activists and organizations that do not oppose abortion–ranging from crisis pregnancy centers that help mothers after their babies are born, to the fight against assisted suicide and opposing the dehydration of cognitively disabled patients like Terri Schiavo.

Most pro-life organizations also work against so-called “futile care” hospital protocols. Futile Care–also known as medical futility and inappropriate care–is a utilitarian bioethical policy that allows doctors to remove wanted life-sustaining treatment based on the doctors’ own beliefs about suffering, the value of life, and the costs of care. In this sense, futile care protocols are a form of ad hoc health care rationing

Texas is a pro-life state. Yet, the state has the most egregious law in the nation allowing doctors to impose futile care treatment cut offs on unwilling patients. Texas Right to Life has been striving for many years to repeal this law legislatively, so far with only partial success. (Full disclosure, Wesley has testified several times in the Texas Legislature in support of this effort.)

But now, the organization has brought a lawsuit that may bring about the demise of futile care in Texas involving a baby named Tinslee Lewis, attacking the constitutionality of futile care laws, which could point the way forward in other states that allow futile care impositions.

Texas Right to Life also promoted and helped enact the famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) “Texas Heartbeat Bill” that forbids abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and which allows for private enforcement through civil litigation. The law remains in effect despite repeated efforts in the courts to enjoin such lawsuits.

Wesley’s guest is leading these efforts in the legal trenches on behalf of Texas Right to Life. East Texas native and attorney, Emily Cook has devoted herself to the pro-life movement since 2007, when she volunteered with a local crisis pregnancy center. A graduate of Stephen F Austin Texas State University and Baylor University Law School, Emily has worked numerous legislative sessions on behalf of Texas Right to Life and currently serves as the organization’s General Counsel, for which she focuses on nonprofit corporate governance law, campaign finance law, and patient advocacy issues.