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FORT WORTH, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) — Medical experts have determined that a Texas hospital has given erroneous reasons for denying treatment to a 17-month-old girl.
On Tuesday, doctors Glenn Green and Patrick Roughneen got permission from Cook Children's Hospital (CCH) in Fort Worth, Texas to install a much-needed tracheostomy (trach) tube in Tinslee Lewis, according to Kimberlyn Schwartz, communication director for the pro-life group Texas Right to Life (TRTL).
Schwartz told Church Militant that for several months, CCH had given so-called medical reasons for not allowing the procedure. The reason given by CCH for not providing a trach is that she allegedly had pulmonary hypertension, which would have put her at risk if the minor surgery was performed.
After evaluating Lewis, Green and Roughneen proved this claim was unfounded and Lewis had been erroneously diagnosed. Lewis, who's been kept on a ventilator since last year, needed the trach to allow her to be removed from the ventilator. Green and Roughneen told her family they're willing to provide Lewis with a trach and continue treating Lewis' non-fatal congenital heart disease.
But Schwartz says CCH is still placing obstacles in the way. CCH told the family they won't allow the doctors to perform the surgery unless the doctors first guarantee that they will have Lewis transported to their hospital within seven days after the procedure. In addition, CCH is insisting that the family sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order before the procedure begins.
Lewis' mother, however, does not want to sign her daughter's life away. The family filed a motion on behalf of Lewis, Tuesday afternoon, and a decision is pending, to determine whether or not the family can be forced to sign the DNR. In addition, the motion also seeks to grant emergency care to one or both doctors in support of the family.
Pro-life advocates TRTL is pleased with the latest development but calls out CCH for not treating Lewis sooner, according to its press statement:
This news emphasizes what we've known all along: 1) The narrative that baby Tinslee is "a hopeless case" is completely false, and 2) placing a countdown on patients cuts their lives short. There is hope for patients when families have time to seek alternate care. Cook Children's planned to pull the plug on baby Tinslee last November, stating no other doctors would care for her and that her death was imminent, but 248 days later, Tinslee has proven them wrong.
In previous court testimony, Dr. Jay Duncan, Lewis' physician at CCH, told the court that his conscience would not allow him to insert a trach because it would add to Lewis' suffering.
A source said at the time: "Cook [Children's] offered to do it months ago. Trinity [Tinslee's mother] said she wanted to look into it on her own. A day later [she] agreed. Cook changed its mind and refused. Conscience is apparently a malleable concept."
Green and Roughneen verify, however, that all the conditions for not treating Lewis that were provided by CCH and its advocates in friend-of-the-court briefs and in courtroom testimony are often treatable.
When Lewis was nine months old, CCH enacted the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA), whereby a so-called ethics panel makes the decision to terminate treatment of a patient within its care.
TADA was enacted under Gov. George W. Bush and was passed as a means to provide dispute resolution into the decision-making for providing treatment. Since that time, TRTL, which originally was a partner in passing the law, has sought to improve upon the law through several legislative sessions. This has included passing legislation to ban the practice of denying food and water to patients.
Another goal has been to remove the 10-Day Rule, wherein after the "ethics" panel decides to remove treatment, the oftentimes grieving family has 10 days to find a hospital willing to accept transfer of the patient.
The biggest opponents to the passing of pro-life legislation have been the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) and Texas Alliance for Life, which critics have called a "faux-life" organization.
In 2019, during Texas' 86th Legislative Session, Jennifer Allmon represented the Texas bishops as the TCCB's executive director to advocate for Senate Bill 2355, which would have allowed disabilities to be considered in determining end-of-life decisions.
Allmon was supported by Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, in opposing Senate Bill 2089, which would have repealed the 10-Day Rule, and still failed to pass in the lower House when they amended the 10-Day Rule to a 45-Day Rule, instead of abolishing it outright.
Pojman has continued to champion TADA, even as recently as at the Texas Republican Convention this week, whereby he invokes the support of the Texas bishops, lends credibility to his organization by reminding the Republicans in attendance that Texas Right to Life originally helped pass TADA, and has continued to lie about the circumstances surrounding Chris Dunn, who was a victim of TADA in 2015.
Pojman has continued to maintain that "lobbyists" kept Dunn alive against his will, his family's will and the judgment of hospital staff. Dunn's mother, Evelyn Kelly, has responded to this and testified in a public Senate hearing that Pojman is a liar after he made his statements two seats from where she was sitting.
Church Militant reached out to TCCB but have yet to receive comment.