Judge Rules Texas Hospital Can Take Baby Off Life Support

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge ruled Thursday a hospital can remove an 11-month-old girl from life support over the objections of her mother, based on the state’s 10-day rule.

Tinslee Lewis. (Texas Right to Life via AP)

Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion of the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio denied Trinity Lewis’ request for a temporary injunction in Tarrant County District Court against Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Lewis’ daughter, Tinslee, has remained on life support since her premature birth last year.

The mother sued the hospital after it planned to remove Tinslee from life support on Nov. 10, invoking the 10-day rule after concluding the child is in constant pain, is suffering and that her condition will never improve. The law allows a hospital to withdraw life support after 10 days if a new medical provider cannot be found.

The hospital said Marion’s ruling, which was not immediately available Thursday, restores its ability “to make the most compassionate and medically appropriate decisions for Tinslee as she struggles in pain to survive each day.”

“This is an emotional and difficult situation for everyone involved, especially for this family who had high hopes that Tinslee would get better,” the hospital said in a statement.

It continued, “Our medical judgment is that Tinsleee should be allowed to pass naturally and peacefully rather than artificially kept alive by painful treatments … to keep her alive, doctors and nurses must keep her on a constant stream of painkillers, sedatives and paralytics. As a result, Tinslee is paralyzed at all times. She currently is suffering from severe sepsis.”

Cook said it has contacted over 20 facilities to see if they would take Tinslee, but all agreed additional care is futile. It says she has “dying events” two to three times every day.

Lewis, however, said she will appeal the judge’s “anti-life” ruling.

“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living,” she said in a written statement. “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.”

Lewis is represented by Texas Right to Life, which said it is disappointed in the ruling and argued the decision effectively sentences Tinslee “to death like a criminal.”

“The 10-day rule has robbed countless patients of their right to life and right to due process,” the group said in a statement. “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.”

Tarrant County District Judge Alex Kim was originally assigned the case and issued a temporary injunction against the hospital. He was removed after the hospital claimed he designated himself presiding judge by ignoring case-assignment rules in place. Marion was then assigned the case at the trial court level.

Lewis will be appealing the ruling to the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. Both sides had agreed the hospital will wait at least seven days before removing life support to give Lewis time to file the appeal.

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