UPDATE: Texas Right to Life secured a temporary injunction Sunday, allowing Lewis to continue receiving care until a court hearing on Nov. 22.
FORT WORTH, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Texas hospital is set to remove the ventilator from 9-month-old Tinslee Lewis Sunday, while her family continues to do battle to keep her alive.
Lewis has a congenital heart disease and requires a ventilator to assist with breathing, and is currently in care at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.
She is the latest victim of Texas' 10-Day Rule under the Texas Advanced Directives Act. Under this provision, the hospital's ethics panel decided they would no longer continue care for her, and informed the family on October 31 they had only 10 days to find a hospital willing to treat her.
According to sources close to the case, the hospital panel did not cite a medical reason for denying treatment, but decided that, in their opinion, Lewis' quality of life did not meet their threshold to continue treatment.
Lewis' mother reached out to Texas Right to Life, which provided a lawyer to fight for Lewis' case. The time window of 10 days has been criticized by opponents of the law, who claim it is not enough time for a grieving family to look for a new hospital or seek the legal assistance to petition a court.
Texas Right to Life aggressively lobbied at the 86th Texas Legislative Session earlier this year to eliminate the 10-Day Rule in order to prevent hospitals from arbitrarily deciding to terminate treatment, thus ending a patient's life.
On Sept. 20, Texas Right to Life invited supporters to join them in Austin. Citizens from all over the state presented public testimonies to legislators, with the overwhelming majority in favor of eliminating the 10-Day Rule through Senate Bill 2089:
The purpose of this Act is to protect the right of patients and their families to decide whether and under what circumstances to choose or reject life-sustaining treatment. This Act amends the applicable provisions of the Advance Directives Act (Chapter 166, Health and Safety Code) to ensure that, when an attending physician is unwilling to respect a patient’s advance directive or a patient’s or family’s decision to choose the treatment necessary to prevent the patient’s death, life-sustaining medical treatment will be provided until the patient can be transferred to a health care provider willing to honor the directive or treatment decision.
Instead of supporting the fight to abolish the 10-Day Rule, they've been met with resistance from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Texas Alliance for Life and representatives of Catholic hospitals.
Jennifer Allmon, executive director for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, has tried to rationalize ending patients' lives by claiming that "sometimes medical interventions are actually harmful to the human body and constitutes violence to patients."
Evelyn Kelly spoke to legislators on behalf of her son, Chris Dunn, whose son died in the care of Houston Methodist Hospital.
Kelly claimed those supporting the 10-Day Rule lied about the circumstances of her son's case to lawmakers in order to advance their cause.
The entire testimony for the pro-life bills can be viewed here, starting at 2:23:00.
Emily Cook, general counsel for Texas Right to Life, has been by the Lewis family's side and offered a statement on their behalf: "Texas House leadership is directly responsible for Tinslee's situation. They had ample opportunities to repeal this draconian law that allows hospitals to pull the plug on Texas children but chose politics over patients."
Lewis' family is seeking help before it is too late to save their baby and ask the public to contact Cook Children's Hospital administrator, Stan Davis, and insist that Tinslee Lewis be allowed to continue living.
Church Militant contacted Davis for comment but received no response as of press time.
Phone: (682) 885-4000