US Judge rules baby at Texas Hospital can be taken off life support against family's wishes
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FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge ruled Thursday that a 11-month-old baby can be taken off life support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth against the family’s wishes.
The family of Tinslee Lewis, who was born in February with severe medical problems, will appeal the decision, the family’s lawyer, Joe Nixon, said. They are filing an emergency motion to stay which, if granted, will prevent the hospital from removing life-sustaining care while the appeal is ongoing.
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The hospital also agreed to keep Tinslee on life support for seven days following the judge’s decision, regardless of whether or not the stay is granted.
“We’re pretty sad,” Tye Brown, Tinslee’s cousin, said. “We’re not angry with the judge or anything, but you know, it’s a very sad feeling.”
Brown said Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother, was devastated by the news.
“She’s very upset, it’s her baby, this is her life,” she said.
Texas Right to Life shared a statement from Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, in a press release.
“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living,” Lewis said. “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.”
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Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals Chief Justice Sandee B. Marion made the decision Thursday after listening to arguments at a hearing on Dec. 12. Lawyers for the hospital argued Tinslee will never get better and keeping her on life support is causing her needless suffering.
The hospital has reached out to at least 19 other facilities to potentially transfer Tinslee, but said each facility agreed with Cook Children’s diagnosis.
However, Tinslee’s family believes she needs more time to get better, and they think she will.
Nixon argued that the hospital does not have the right to decide whether Tinslee lives or dies.
“It is the mother’s right to make that decision,” he said.
The ruling comes after a months-long legal battle between Cook Children’s Medical Center and the family of Tinslee Lewis.
At the center of the legal battle over Tinslee’s life is the controversial Texas Advance Directives Act — Texas Health & Safety Code 166.046 — that physicians can use to end a patient’s care they determine is futile, even if the family disagrees.
Appeals court grants order to keep Texas baby on life support
The court ordered a hospital not to remove the 11-month-old from life support until it makes a final ruling. Doctors say she is in pain and will not get better. © Courtesy of Texas Right to Life via AP Image: Tinslee Lewis The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ordered Cook Children's Medical Center to not remove Tinslee Lewis from life support until it makes a final ruling in the case. The appeals court did not immediately schedule any hearings in the case.
At the hearing, Nixon argued the statute is unconstitutional.
“The statute is the culprit, not the hospital,” Nixon said.
In its statement, Texas Right to Life said the group was disappointed in the ruling, which it said “not only disregarded the Constitution, but also sentenced an innocent 11-month-old baby to death like a criminal.”
The following is a timeline of the legal battle between Cook Children’s and Tinslee’s family:
? Oct.: Cook Children’s officials tell Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother, they are planning an Ethics Committee meeting about Tinslee’s treatment
? Oct. 30: The committee makes an unanimous decision to end Tinslee’s treatment.
? Oct. 31: The committee gives Trinity Lewis a letter saying treatment for Tinslee will end in 10 days.
? Nov. 10: Joe Nixon, the Lewis family’s attorney, files for a temporary restraining order against the hospital. Judge Alex Kim grants the order, which is set to expire on Nov. 22.
? Nov. 19: Kim extends the restraining order to Dec. 10.
? Nov. 20: Cook Children’s files a motion to have Kim recused from the case, saying he is biased and violated legal procedure by assigning himself the case.
? Dec. 4: Judge Kim is recused from the case at a hearing.
? Dec. 10: A temporary injunction hearing is set for Dec. 12 under Chief Justice Sandee B. Marion of the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
? Dec. 12: The temporary injunction hearing takes place.
? Jan. 2: Judge Marion issues her ruling.
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