Judge Rules Hospital Can Shut Off 11-Month-Old Baby’s Life Support Over Mother’s Objections

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 2, 2020   |   12:51PM   |   Fort Worth, Texas

A Texas judge is allowing a Fort Worth hospital to pull the plug on a 11-month-old baby without her mother’s consent.

Baby Tinslee is a 11-month-old girl with congenital heart disease and is breathing with the assistance of a ventilator. She is sedated but conscious. Cook Children’s Fort Worth Hospital informed Tinslee’s mother, Trinity, on October 31 that they would pull the plug on her daughter against her directive, scheduling her to die.

The family and hospital have been in a tenuous legal battle ever since over the Texas 10-day rule that gives families only 10 days to find a medical facility that will treat their loved ones when one medical center refuses to provide further treatment.

Judge Sandee Marion, Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals, denied Baby Tinslee Lewis a temporary injunction today.  The decision will allow Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth to pull the plug on the 11-month-old, but the family will appeal today’s anti-Life decision.

Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother, responded to today’s ruling: “I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living.  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.”

The appellate court will decide whether to grant Baby Tinslee more time through an emergency stay while they hear arguments from Tinslee’s lawyers and the hospital.

Texas Right to Life has been helping Tinslee and her mother and told LifeNews “is disappointed that the ruling not only disregarded the Constitution, but also sentenced an innocent 11-month-old baby to death like a criminal.”

“The 10-Day Rule has robbed countless patients of their Right to Life and right to due process.  We pray the appellate court will identify how the law violates Baby Tinslee’s due process rights, revoke her death sentence, and strike down the deadly 10-Day Rule,” it added.

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“We will continue working with Trinity Lewis until Baby Tinslee is safe, and will keep fighting this anti-Life law, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton deemed unconstitutional in his amicus brief defending Tinslee.”

“However, unless Governor Greg Abbott calls a special session to repeal the 10-Day Rule, Tinslee Lewis will not be the last patient victimized by this law.  Texans who want to protect patients like Tinslee should contact their state legislators at (512) 463-4630,” it added.

The 10-Day Rule is a provision in the Texas Advance Directives Act (Chapter 166.046 of the Texas Health & Safety Code) that allows a hospital ethics committee to withdraw basic life-sustaining care, like a ventilator or dialysis, from a patient against his expressed will, his advance directive, or the instruction of his surrogate decision-maker. Ten days after informing the patient or surrogate of the committee’s decision, the hospital can remove basic life-sustaining care from a patient.

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Committees can withdraw care for any reason and the patient cannot appeal the decision. Even if the patient is conscious, coherent, and actively requests to stay alive, the 10-Day-Rule allows the hospital to overrule the patient’s will.

Attorney Wesley Smith, a noted writer and author on end of life issues, testified in favor of  legislation to stop the rule. During his testimony he broke down the problems with the 10-day rule:

In Texas, patient autonomy is essentially a one-way street. Here, if a doctor disagrees with the patient’s decision to maintain life—and the patient or family refuses to permit the life-extending treatment to be withdrawn—the doctor can take the controversy to the hospital bioethics committee for a quasi-judicial hearing and binding ultimate ruling.

If the committee agrees with the doctor, the patient or family has only 10-days within which to find an alternative source of treatment and arrange a transfer. If they can’t, the life-extending treatment can be terminated over the patient or surrogate’s objection—meaning the patient will be forced into a death at a time when life could have been maintained.

To fully comprehend the unjust nature of Texas law in this regard, realize that these “futile care” or “inappropriate care” decisions do not terminate treatment because it won’t work, but because it does. It is keeping the patient alive when the doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.

This isn’t an objective medical determination, but a subjective value judgment. And given the subjective nature of such decision making—which involves the question of whether the among of suffering the intervention may cause outweighs the desire to maintain life—the law should give the ultimate power to decide such questions to patients, families, and duly appointed surrogates who know the patient most intimately, not to bioethics committee members who are strangers to the patient.