Human Rights

Higher court steps in after judge says hospital can end baby’s life support in a week

life support, Texas, 10-day rule

UPDATE, 02/01/2020: A date has been set for the appeal, according to an announcement from Texas Right to Life. Tuesday, February 4, a three-judge panel, comprised of Justice Lee Gabriel, Justice Wade Birdwell, and Justice Mike Wallach, will hear the case. The appeals court will decide if the hospital can invoke the Texas 10-Day Rule, allowing Tinslee’s life support to be withdrawn against her mother’s will. “I’m not going to say my biggest fear is losing her because I know that everybody has to pass away,” Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother, said in a press conference. “But my fear is them pulling the plug on her… without me being able to make that decision for her.”

Tinslee also celebrated her first birthday today, February 1. In another Texas Right to Life press release, Lewis said Tinslee has been improving, opening her eyes and grabbing her fingers. “Tinslee had her first birthday today,” she said. “I’m so grateful – because when we had just the 10 days in November, I thought her life would be over. But since then, Tinslee has kept fighting, her doctors and nurses tell me she’s improving, and now she’s one year old. Today, Tinslee got all dressed up, has gotten her hair done, and took some pretty pictures. She’s heavily sedated to keep her from pulling out her tubes, but she recognizes me and others who love her, and is able to open her eyes, move her arms, and grab my fingers. She is surrounded by so much love, not just from me and our family, but from people who are praying for her around the world.”

UPDATE, 01/06/2020: Tinslee Lewis has been granted emergency relief, according to NBC News. The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth has ruled that Cook Children’s Medical Center must keep Tinslee on life support while the appeal is pending. The date of the appeal has not yet been set, giving Tinslee more time.

Texas Right to Life responded by saying they were “grateful and relieved” to hear the emergency stay had been granted. “This gives us so much hope for Tinslee,” Kimberlyn Schwartz, a Texas Right to Life spokeswoman, said to NBC News. “This is a prayer answered.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton likewise applauded the ruling on Twitter, and asked people to pray for little Tinslee.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE, 01/02/2020: Judge Sandee Marion, Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals, denied Tinslee Lewis a temporary injunction today, allowing Cook Children’s Medical Center to turn off her life support and let the 11-month-old baby girl die. The family says they will appeal the decision.

As previously reported by Live Action News, little Tinslee was born in February 2019 with medical concerns, and in July, was placed on life support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The hospital enacted the state’s 10-Day Rule, which gives family’s just ten days to find a new facility to care for their loved one before the hospital removes life support and the patient dies. Thanks to a temporary restraining order issued in November, Tinslee is still alive and at Cook Children’s.

But now, Marion has ruled that the hospital can remove her life support, and they plan to do so in just seven days.

READ: The ’10-Day-Rule’ in Texas is an unethical and institutional power play

“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living,” her mother Trinity Lewis said in a statement shared by Texas Right to Life. “I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby. I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee. She deserves the right to live. Please keep praying for Tinslee and thank you for supporting us during this difficult time.”

Tinslee has Ebstein Anomaly – a rare heart defect – and chronic lung disease along with severe chronic pulmonary hypertension. Doctors believe she is in pain and suffering and that there is nothing more that can be done to help her. The family disagrees, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is supporting them, along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

“The Attorney General’s office is involved in the ongoing litigation, fighting to see that due process and the right to life are fully respected by Texas law,” the two said in a joint statement. “The Attorney General’s office will be supporting an appeal of this case to the Second Court of Appeals.” They said they will be “working diligently to do all we can to ensure that Tinslee and her family are provided the care and support that they seek.”

Texas Right to Life spokesperson Kim Schwartz told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the hospital’s decision “was not based on whether treatment is or isn’t working. But the bottom line is that the 10-Day Rule allowed a hospital committee to make this life-or-death decision without giving Tinslee due process.”

She added that the 10-Day Rule leaves families in a “race against a countdown to save their loved ones.”

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