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January 7, 2020

Baby's Life Support Extended until Appeals Court Hears Case Against Texas Advanced Directives Act

Tinslee Lewis
A Texas appeals court ordered that 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis's life support will be extended until it rules in a case her mother brings against the Texas Advanced Directives Act. This law governs when the hospital can legally remove life support.

Tinslee Lewis has spent her entire life at Cook Children's Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, chronic lung disease, and severe chronic high blood pressure. Tinslee has further developed severe sepsis. She requires a ventilator, cardiac support, painkillers, sedation, and medical paralysis.

Cook Children's said it “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 11months ago. 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.”

The hospital says it contacted over 20 medical professionals regarding Tinslee's conditions, and none of them knew how to save her.

Under the Texas Advanced Directives Act, if a patient's doctor and an ethics or medical committee agree that ongoing life support is medically inappropriate, but the patient or someone responsible for them still requests treatment, the medical facility is not required to provide treatment after 10 days once they notify all parties of the decision. This "10-day rule" also requires that a physician make a reasonable effort to transfer the patient to a physician who will continue providing treatment.

Pro-life advocates are conflicted about the ethics of the Texas Advanced Directives Act. Texas Alliance for Life and the Texas Catholic bishop's conference argue that the law provides a balanced approach to the situation, while Texas Right to Life, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton wish to have the law overturned.

In a joint statement, the Governor and Attorney General said,
“The Attorney General’s office is involved in the ongoing litigation, fighting to see that due process and the right to life are fully respected by Texas law. The Attorney General’s office will be supporting an appeal of this case to the Second Court of Appeals. The State of Texas is fully prepared to continue its support of Ms. Lewis in the Supreme Court if necessary. 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.”
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