AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have filed an amicus curiae letter in the Second Court of Appeals, agreeing with the family of Tinsley Lewis that the Fort Worth appellate court should grant an emergency stay of the trial court’s order denying their request for a temporary injunction.
That would mean, essentially that the 11-month-old’s life is preserved for now.
Tinsley hasn’t left Cook Children’s Medical Center since her premature birth in February of 2019. She was born with Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare heart defect that has left her with chronic lung disease and severe high blood pressure. The baby is in the neonatal ICU and requires full respiratory and cardiac support, in addition to deep sedation to keep her medically paralyzed.
“This case presents a life-or-death decision,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The right-to-life and the guarantee of due process are of the utmost importance not only to baby Tinslee and her family, but to all Texans. I will continue to fight for Tinslee and my office will continue to use all necessary resources to ensure that she will not be deprived of her right to live.”
In November the hospital attempted to invoke Texas’ “10-day rule” — a law that gives families 10 days to find a new hospital if they disagree with doctors who decide to take a patient off life support — but baby Tinslee’s family won a temporary restraining order that forced the hospital to keep her on life support.
At the time Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, said her daughter was conscious, had favorite nurses, enjoyed toys with lights, and that her favorite movie is “Trolls”.
During a December 12 hearing, officials with Cook Children’s said the hospital would “take no action to withdraw life sustaining treatment for Tinslee Lewis for a period of seven days from the date of this court’s order” to allow the family to file a notice of appeal and a motion for emergency relief.
But just this week, a district court judge in Fort Worth sided with the hospital and denied a temporary injunction for Tinslee’s to keep her on life support.
Doctors said they’ve done everything they can for Tinslee, but she will never get better and… they believe she is suffering.
“Just changing her diapers, turning her over so she doesn’t develop bedsores – all the things we have to do to keep her alive and well are causing her pain and suffering and we don’t want to do that any longer,” said Wini King with Cook Children’s.
The hospital has reached out to more than 20 other facilities to see if Tinslee can be transferred to their care, but says each one agreed with their diagnosis.
“The truth of the matter is Tinslee is not going to get better, and it’s not just us sayin that,” King said.
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 fails to require that physicians provide an explanation of why they refused life-sustaining treatment and provide the patient’s family with adequate notice and opportunity to argue their position prior to the committee reaching a decision, effectively allowing the government to deny an individual’s right to his or her own life and to do so without due process.