A Missouri state lawmaker wants to prevent doctors and hospitals from removing life-sustaining measures for young patients without parental consent.
House Republican Bill Kidd of Independence wrote and first filed a bill known as “Simon’s Law” three years ago, but has not been able to get it signed into law.
He says there’s been strong opposition from health care stakeholders – doctors, hospitals and insurance companies – who are concerned about expenses.
“It is expensive to treat some of these children,” said Kidd. “They decide if it’s futile to treat them or not, or too expensive, we don’t have enough resources or it’s going to too much doctor time. ‘We’re just going to let your child die. We’re going give them comfort feeds’, which is basically morphine and water. And then when they die, we’ll do nothing.”
Simon’s Law passed with strong majorities in the Kansas legislature this year and was signed into law. Other states have discussed similar measures. Representative Kidd claims he wrote the language that was adopted in Kansas.
Simon’s Law is named after Simon Crosier, who was born to Sheryl and Scott Crosier in a Missouri hospital in 2010. Simon was diagnosed shortly after birth with the disorder Trisomy 18, also known as Edward’s Disease, which causes severe developmental delays.
Representative Kidd says the Crosiers discovered Simon had been taken off life-sustaining support in the hospital four months later when walking by his room. Sheryl Crosier has since written a book titled “I’m not a Syndrome-My Name is Simon”.
American Medical Association guidelines generally say physicians have an obligation to shift the intent of care toward comfort and closure when further intervention to prolong the life of a patient becomes futile, but the organization acknowledges conflicts between the parties may persist in what is futility in the particular instance.
Under Simon’s Law, a do-not-resuscitate or similar physician’s order, either orally or in writing, is prohibited without the written permission of at least one parent or legal guardian if the patient is under 18 years of age. Representative Kidd said doctors improperly claim they’re doing a service by making determinations that are too difficult and painful for parents to deal with.
“The doctors all say ‘Well, we’re just taking this on ourselves and saving the family the trauma’,” Kidd said. “We if the family doesn’t want that child to die, they want them treated, you need to treat them. It’s not your right to kill the child.”
In each of the three previous times, Kidd has filed Simon’s law, the bill has received a hearing twice in committee, but has never received a vote. He says that after he successfully attached the measure to a Senate bill that came over to the House, it was blocked during the reconciliation process by the committee’s chairman.
“117 of my peers said this needs to pass. But one man, Dr. Frederick, is standing in the way, and still continues to stand in the way.”
Republican State Representative Keith Frederick chairs the House Health and Mental Health Committee which considered the bill each year it’s been filed.
Kidd says “Simon’s Law” has been his number one priority since taking office in 2015. He contends the state has to stop the killing of babies and specifies that his position does not refer to the abortion issue, but strictly to parental rights.