A Texas judge ruled on Thursday that a children's hospital could remove an 11-month-old from life support despite her family's objections.
Tinslee Lewis was given approximately seven days to live after a Texas Fourth Court of Appeals judge denied a temporary injunction to keep her on life support at the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. The injunction would have kept the baby on life support for several weeks.
Tinslee was born prematurely and has been hospitalized with a rare heart defect and other serious health problems since birth. In October, the hospital determined that efforts to keep the baby alive were only causing her more pain. It informed her family of plans to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in 10 days, citing state law. The so-called 10-day rule can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors who recommend to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
The baby's mother, Trinity Lewis, disagreed with the decision, sparking a months-long legal battle. Lewis said she should be allowed to make the decision of whether or not her child lives.
In a statement issued by Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that opposes the "10-day rule," Lewis said she plans to appeal the judge's decision.
"I am heartbroken over today's decision because the judge basically said Tinslee's life is NOT worth living," she said in a statement issued by Texas Right to Life. "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," she added.
The hospital said it would wait up to seven days before taking action to give the family time to decide on whether to appeal the judge's ruling.
"Even with the most extraordinary measures the medical team is taking, Tinslee continues to suffer. To keep her alive, doctors and nurses must keep her on a constant stream of painkillers, sedatives, and paralytics," the hospital said in a statement Thursday. "Even with medication and support, Tinslee has 'dying events' 2-3 times per day. When she is in distress, Tinslee crashes and aggressive medical intervention is immediately necessary, which causes even more pain."
The hospital said it tried everything it could to help Tinslee improve, including reaching out to more than 20 well-respected health care facilities and specialists over the course of several months, but "even the highest level of medical expertise cannot correct conditions as severe as Tinslee's."
"Cook Children's has been devoted to this precious baby her entire life, providing compassionate, round-the-clock, intensive care and attention since she arrived at our hospital 11 months ago," the statement said. "Her body is tired. She is suffering. It's time to end this cycle because, tragically, none of these efforts will ever make her better."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton released a joint statement after the judge's decision, saying they would "continue to support Ms. Lewis's exhaustion of all legal options to ensure that Tinslee is given every chance at life."
"The State of Texas is fully prepared to continue its support of Ms. Lewis in the Supreme Court if necessary," the statement said. "We are working diligently to do all we can to ensure that Tinslee and her family are provided the care and support that they seek."