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Texas Judge Tells Fort Worth Hospital It Can Remove Baby From Life Support

The family plans to appeal the judge’s decision, according to Texas Right to Life.

via Texas Right to Life
Baby Tinslee Lewis.

A judge ruled in favor of allowing a Fort Worth hospital to remove an infant from life support on Thursday, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The move is at odds with the wishes of the 11-month-old baby’s family, which has spent recent months fighting Cook Children’s Medical Center over ending care for Tinslee Lewis.

The hospital will not take action for at least seven days. Tinslee’s family intends to appeal the decision, according to the Star-Telegram.

The issue has roiled both the Fort Worth community and drawn the attention of conservative groups and elected officials including Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton in November argued in legal filings on behalf of the family.

Tinslee was born prematurely at Cook Children’s Medical Center where she has spent her entire life. Since birth, Tinslee has been plagued with medical problems and undergone three open-heart surgeries. She’s been treated for a severe heart defect, lung disease and high blood pressure. She was put on life support in July.

The hospital began talks in September with the Lewis family about transferring Tinslee to another hospital or ending care. Hospital staff has previously argued that the baby is in pain and “further medical intervention is not in Tinslee’s best interest.”

Judge Sandee B. Marion issued the ruling Thursday to deny the request for an injunction filed by the family, which would have prevented the hospital from removing Tinslee from life support.

Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, issued a statement on behalf of Lewis’ mother, Trinity Lewis.

"I am heartbroken over today's decision because the judge basically said Tinslee's life is NOT worth living,” she said in the statement. “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.”

Texas Alliance for Patient Access, a coalition of doctors, hospitals, clinics and insurance providers, said in a statement that the group offered its condolences to the family, but supported Marion’s decision.

Brian Jackson, an attorney for the Alliance, said the law is on the side of the doctors and hospital staff.

“The statute exists to spur doctors and patients to have the difficult, but critical, dialogues that end-of-life requires. Also, it rightfully protects physicians from being forced to perform medically and ethically inappropriate and harmful interventions on a dying patient,” he said. “Withdrawal of requested treatment only occurs after all avenues are exhausted, and no other medical facility is willing to provide the requested medical intervention.”

This piece was originally published in The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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