Disability rights organizations joined religious leaders in a brief to protect Baby Tinslee Lewis in her fight against the Texas 10-Day Rule. The friends of the court brief, submitted to the Supreme Court of Texas, includes Catholic bishops Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler and Most Reverend René H. Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, as well as Protect TX Fragile Kids, ADAPT, ADAPT of Texas, Not Dead Yet, the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization (HALO), the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, Deacon Keith Fournier, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the True Texas Project, Right to Life of East Texas, the Common Good Foundation, and Grassroots America We the People.
A lower court in July rebuked the anti-Life Texas 10-Day Rule (section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code). Baby Tinslee’s case now awaits review in the Texas Supreme Court. Last month, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth filed a motion to expedite the case in the state’s highest court. Cook Children’s has been fighting to remove life-sustaining care from Baby Tinslee against the wishes of Tinslee’s mother, Trinity, for over a year now.
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In the amici curiae brief in support of Baby Tinslee, the groups wrote, “If review is granted, this Court should hold that section 166.046 is unconstitutional as applied on its face.” The brief notes that Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a joint statement earlier this year in defense of Baby Tinslee and her family’s fight to protect her Right to Life. Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton also filed a brief in support of Baby Tinslee, in which the two attorneys deemed the Texas 10-Day Rule unconstitutional.
The Texas 10-Day Rule grants a hospital committee the power to make life-and-death decisions against the wishes of the patient or her medical decision-maker. The patient has only 10 days to secure transfer to another medical facility before life-sustaining care is denied and withdrawn. As the brief today observes, this means that the Texas 10-Day Rule not only violates an individual’s rights but also tramples parental rights and due process, as in the case of Baby Tinslee.
The brief outlines that under the draconian 10-Day Rule “There is no standard of proof, no meaningful right for the patient to be heard, no right to call witnesses, no record, and no neutral arbiter to decide the patient’s fate.” In Baby Tinslee’s case, Cook Children’s asserted in December 2019 that she would not live beyond May. Now, Tinslee is still alive almost a year later, approaching her second birthday.
The diversity of support for Baby Tinslee in her fight for life demonstrates the pressing need to reform Texas law. Texas Right to Life has helped over three dozen patients facing denial of treatment in 2020 alone.