After hard-fought legal battles to save baby Tinslee Lewis from death by withdrawal of life-saving hospital care, the 3-year-old is home with her family.
A Brief History
When a hospital decides to use Texas’ “10-day rule,” basic life-sustaining care is halted following a 10-day countdown. Tinslee was 9 months old when Cook Children’s Hospital invoked the 10-day rule, with vague “quality of life” arguments for a child with a congenital heart problem. A legal race ensued to save Tinslee’s life.
Texas Right to Life’s explanation of the 10-day rule states:
Under the reign of the anti-Life 10-Day-Law, enacted in 1999, a partial hospital committee has the power to decide to withdraw treatment for any reason, including the subjective anti-life assessment of “quality of life.” The hospital can then remove treatment, even life-sustaining treatment (ventilator, dialysis, etc.), and the patient cannot appeal the decision. Even if the patient is conscious, coherent, and actively requesting the continuation of life-sustaining treatment, the 10-Day-Law gives the hospital the power to overrule the patient’s wishes.
Hospitals are not required to hear families’ protests, and the only options available are to find another facility to accept an emergency transfer or to begin legal proceedings.
In 2019, Judge Alex Kim, a state district court judge in Tarrant County, approved a temporary restraining order Texas Right to Life filed that November. The order stopped the hospital from removing Tinslee’s care on the 10th day.
Further political-legal battles ensued. Judge Kim was kicked off of the case by an out-of-town judge, and the hospital launched a series of subpoenas at conservative organizations in an attempt to paint Kim as partisan.
The Texas Supreme Court decided to turn the case over to Chief Justice Sandee Marion of the Texas 4th District Court of Appeals in San Antonio. Marion extended the temporary protection of Tinslee until ultimately ruling against protecting her life.
Tinslee’s family appealed the decision.
The Texas 2nd Court of Appeals granted a favorable verdict that saved Tinslee and stood against challenges from Cook Children’s, the Texas Medical Association, and fake pro-life organization Texas Alliance for Life.
Late last week, after years of legal battles and constant care, Tinslee was finally able to return home with her family.
Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mom, told Texas Right to Life, “We have been cherishing and enjoying Tinslee being home, and we appreciate everyone who stepped up to help in any way as well.”
Two regular legislative sessions have occurred since Tinslee’s case brought to light the detrimental effects of Texas’ 10-day rule. Neither the 86th nor the 87th legislative sessions saw bills passed to revoke the 10-day rule, despite legislators putting forward multiple bills.
Texas Right to Life says they are doubling their efforts in the Capitol and with their full-time patient advocacy team to “combat and stop the deadly 10-Day Rule from destroying the lives of more vulnerable patients like Tinslee.”