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Texas Court Holds Hearing On Fight Over Baby's Life Support

Tinslee Lewis
Texas Right to Life
Via Associated Press
Tinslee Lewis

An appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a Texas mother who does not want a hospital to end life-sustaining treatment for her 1-year-old daughter.

Texas’ Second Court Court of Appeals in Fort Worth is considering the case after a lower court said Cook Children’s Medical Center could remove Tinslee Lewis from life support. The appeals court has said the child will remain on life support until it makes a final ruling in the case.

Doctors at the Fort Worth hospital have said Tinslee is in pain and will never recover. Her 20-year-old mother, Trinity Lewis, has said she doesn’t think Tinslee, who turned 1 Saturday, is suffering.

Lewis’ attorney, Joe Nixon, told the three appellate judges that Lewis has the right to decide whether her daughter lives or dies.

Amy Warr, an attorney for Cook Children’s, said that doctors have a right to decline care for a patient if that care “causes suffering without medical benefit.”

Doctor’s at Cook Children’s had planned to remove Tinslee from life support on Nov. 10 after invoking the state’s “10-day rule,” which can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors who say life-sustaining treatment should be stopped. The law stipulates that if the hospital’s ethics committee agrees with doctors, treatment can be withdrawn after 10 days if a new provider can’t be found to take the patient.

The hospital and groups working on behalf of Lewis have reached out to other facilities but so far none have agreed to take her.

The hospital has said Tinslee has a rare heart defect and suffers from chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure. The hospital has said she has been on a ventilator since going into respiratory arrest in early July and requires full respiratory and cardiac support, deep sedation and to be medically paralyzed.

The appeals court did not give a deadline for when they’ll make their decision.