Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken an extraordinary measure to try to save the life of 9-month-old Tinslee Lewis, who suffers from congenital heart disease, who risks being taken off life support by the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth.
Paxton filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief Friday in an 11th-hour attempt to stop the hospital, which planned to legally end the baby’s life on Nov. 22 by stopping treatment under a Texas Law called the 10-Day Rule.
Under the current 10-Day Rule legislation, adopted by a handful of states, a hospital can overrule a family’s wish to keep a patient on life support if the hospital’s ethics committee agrees. The family then has 10 days to find a provider willing to take the patient. If they fail, treatment can be withdrawn.
The attorney general has argued that the 10-day provision is unconstitutional and that it violates patients’ rights to due process.
“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,” Paxton wrote in his brief. “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. Patients must be heard and justly represented when determining their own medical treatment, especially when the decision to end treatment could end their life.”
The Cook Children’s Hospital informed Lewis’ mother on Oct. 31 that they would take her baby, who is sedated but conscious, off life support on Nov. 10 against her wishes unless she could find a new hospital. She was unsuccessful in that endeavor. Lawyers were then able to get Cook Children’s hospital to agree to extend the scheduled death of the baby until Nov. 22, which was extended to Dec. 4 after Paxton’s intervention Friday.
According to the the Texas Right to Life group, the hospital offered the child’s mother Trinity Lewis “no physical health reason for their decision to seize Tinslee’s ventilator” but instead cited “quality of life” issues for the baby’s uncertain future.