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Texas Judge Rules Hospital May Take Baby Off Life Support against Mother’s Wishes

A nurse updates a patient’s chart at a hospital in Sylvania, Ohio, May 14, 2018. (Aaron Josefczeyk/Reuters)

A Texas judge ruled Thursday that a hospital may take an 11-month-old girl off life support despite her family’s objections.

Tinslee Lewis, who was born prematurely and suffers from a rare heart defect, has not left the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth since birth. She has had at least six surgeries and went into respiratory arrest in July, and has been on both a heart-lung machine and a ventilator since.

Her doctors said Tinslee “requires significant sedation” and they believe she is in pain.

“The judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living. I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby,” the baby’s mother, Trinity Lewis, said in a statement. “I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee. She deserves the right to live.”

“This isn’t Tinslee’s first rodeo. She’s made it this far. I know she’s going to continue to fight for her life,” Lewis said last month.

Texas state law allows a medical facility to take a patient off life support over the objections of those responsible for their treatment as long as the doctors and the hospital’s ethics committee are in agreement about the decision. The hospital originally planned to take Tinslee off life support on November 10, enforcing the “10-day rule,” which allows the patient to be taken off life support if another health care provider cannot be found within 10 days.

Texas’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, has called the law “unconstitutional” and thrown his support behind Tinslee’s family, filing a brief with the court supporting them.

Cook Children’s Medical Center’s decision “directly violates the mother’s request and her daughter’s right to life,” Paxton said.

Texas Right to Life, representing Tinslee’s family, slammed Thursday’s ruling, saying they are “disappointed that the ruling not only disregarded the Constitution, but also sentenced an innocent 11-month-old baby to death like a criminal.”

The hospital argues that her physicians have exhausted their options to treat Tinslee.

“Our doctors and nurses have done everything humanely possible to save Tinslee’s life. Currently, any care we provide, including feeding, bathing and providing treatments and medication, can cause her little body to experience a medical crisis, which causes even more intervention and pain for her,” the hospital said in a statement last month.

The hospital has agreed to keep life support going for Tinslee for a week to give her mother time to file an appeal of the decision.

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