Pro-Life Group Proposes Law to Protect Others Like Terri Schiavo

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The National Right to Life Committee is urging state legislatures across the country to protect all the other Terri Schiavos out there. The group has released model legislation intended to protect disabled people from being denied food and fluids.

The NRLC calls its blueprint the "Model Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act."

"Far from being an isolated instance, the attempted starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is typical of the denial of food and fluids in less publicized cases taking place daily in nursing homes and hospitals across America," said Burke Balch, a medical ethicist who is affiliated with the National Right to Life Committee.

"For years, people who never asked to die have been quietly starved without much public attention, based on state laws and court opinions that permit third parties to make deadly decisions with little or no scrutiny or accountability," Balch said in a press release.

He and other pro-life activists say the Schiavo case has served as a wake-up call to million s of Americans. "Now we must act to reverse this trend, and restore a presumption against starvation and dehydration," Balch added.

The National Right to Life Committee said its model legislation creates the presumption that people who can't make their own health care decisions would want to continue receiving food and fluids as long as the feeding tube would sustain life.

The presumption would not apply to people who have signed living wills or who explicitly made their wishes known before they were incapacitated. Casual or uninformed statements would not qualify as "express and informed consent," under the proposed legislation.