For years, legislation to replace the Do Not Resuscitate form has been in the works here in Ohio. Today, the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee is holding a final hearing on this legislation. Since the time of pro-life legal scholar Mark Lally, Ohio Right to Life has steadily and studiously worked to promote pro-life provisions for medical orders for life-sustaining treatment. Thanks to Ohio Right to Life's constant vigilance and advocacy over the years, our organization is now at a place where we stand neutral on the state's current proposal.
What exactly is our state's current proposal? Currently, the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee is considering Senate Bill 165, Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST). Pro-life Senator Peggy Lehner serves as the legislation's sponsor with pro-life Senators Bill Seitz and Shannon Jones serving as co-sponsors. Their leadership has been important to ensuring that the legislation does not threaten human life.
What is MOLST? The MOLST is a medical order issued by a physician with the approval of the patient. It is not an advance directive and does not alter current law in Ohio concerning advance directives.
In Ohio, the sole purpose of the MOLST is to replace the current DNR form. Unlike the DNR, the MOLST will encourage and facilitate more communication about end of life decisions, while giving patients and medical professionals more clarity to make these considerations as patients’ medical conditions change. The legislation is based in part on current legislation and represents a working relationship between existing legislation and medical protocols designed to enhance the conversation between medical professionals and their patients.
Does MOLST open the door to euthanasia in Ohio? No. In fact, MOLST was originally created to combat physician-assisted suicide laws in others states. However, because Ohio Right to Life and pro-life leaders were concerned about the form's potential for abuse, the legislation has remained stalled in the Ohio General Assembly for years. With Ohio Right to Life's guidance, Ohio's MOLST legislation now clearly defines who is to use the MOLST, so that there are safeguards against abuse. Because of our insistence, the legislation now:
- Includes a strong statement against euthanasia, insisting "nothing in [Ohio statute] condones, authorizes, or approves of mercy killing, assisted suicide, or euthanasia."
- MOLST will allow doctors to increase their level of care with the aid of the patient through additional advance directives. Ohio's form does not include decisions on IV fluids, tube feedings and hospital admissions.
- Makes clear that the use of the MOLST form is voluntary. No one is required to complete a MOLST form.
- Includes strong conscience protections for our institutions.
- Provides for clear review and revocation of the form.
- Provides for informed patient consent, including a requirement that the patient (or the patient’s appropriate legal designee) sign the form in consultation with his or her medical professional.
Today, after advocating for these protections, Ohio Right to Life is neutral on MOLST, though we remain watchful of the legislation and insistent that Ohio maintain clear and strong protections for the elderly, the disabled and the chronically ill.
Thanks to your support, Ohio Right to Life has pushed the legislation to a place where it does not conflict with our mission. As we advocate for legal safeguards for human life, we ask that you too remain prayerfully watchful with us. As we have seen with this legislation, courageous statements against euthanasia will go a long way in shaping how our culture regards and protects the precious dignity of every human life.