NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the District Court of Tarrant County in support of nine-month-old Tinslee Lewis who’s fighting for her life after Cooks Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Tinslee suffers from a rare heart defect, chronic lung disease and severe chronic pulmonary hypertension. She has already undergone several complex surgeries and breathes with the assistance of a ventilator.
Her family won a last-minute reprieve to stop Cook Children’s Hospital from taking Tinslee off life support against their wishes earlier this month. The hospital had invoked a Texas law that allows that decision when treatment is deemed futile.
The hospital denied the baby’s mother’s request to continue life-sustaining treatment for her. Texas law currently allows a hospital’s “ethics” committee to vote to remove life-sustaining treatment against a patient’s wishes. The physician’s decision to end treatment directly violates the mother’s request and her daughter’s right to life, according to a release from Paxton’s office.
“One of the core principles provided by the United States Constitution is that no person should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. This unconstitutional statute infringes on patients’ right to life and does not allow patients and their families sufficient notice and the opportunity to be heard before physicians override the rights of their patients,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Patients must be heard and justly represented when determining their own medical treatment, especially when the decision to end treatment could end their life.”
Currently, section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code states that a physician who decides that treatment is medically inappropriate – along with an ethics or medical committee that affirm the decision – is not required to provide life-sustaining treatment at the request of a patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless a court orders otherwise.
The statute also fails to require that physicians provide an explanation of why they refused life-sustaining treatment, effectively allowing the government to deny an individual’s right to his or her own life and to do so without due process.