The Supreme Court of Texas rejected the plea of Cook Children’s Medical Center to withdraw a ventilator and medical treatment from Baby Tinslee Lewis against her mother’s will. In August, the hospital urged the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) to overrule an extensive 150-page ruling from the Second Court of Appeals that deemed the 10-Day Rule likely unconstitutional, thereby granting Baby Tinslee temporary legal protection.
Baby Tinslee’s case now returns to the district court, which will consider these questions:
- Are the rights of Baby Tinslee being violated?
- Should a hospital have unilateral authority to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment from a patient against the will of the patient/surrogate?
- Do patients have any due process rights in these situations?
- Is the 10-Day Rule of the Texas Advance Directives Act (Section 166.046 Health & Safety Code) unconstitutional?
The failed petition by Cook Children’s asked SCOTX for permission to withdraw the toddler’s life-sustaining treatment while the 10-Day Rule is argued in court. Baby Tinslee and her mother, Trinity, are represented by the appellate team at Houston-firm Daniels and Tredennick, led by Appellate Counsel Jillian Schumacher. Grapevine-based appellate attorney Kassi Marks and Texas Right to Life General Counsel Emily Cook also serve on Baby Tinslee’s legal team.
The date of the trial has not been set by the 48th District Court with Judge Sandee Marion. Cook Children’s must continue treating Baby Tinslee throughout the waiting period and the trial.
Texas Right to Life Director of Media and Communication, Kimberlyn Schwartz, commended today’s action: “No patient should be robbed of due process and civil liberties once admitted to a hospital. And no family should have to race against the clock to save their loved one with an ailment or disability. Texas Right to Life is thankful that the Texas Supreme Court and Second Court of Appeals recognize the injustice of hospital committees deciding whose quality of life merits treatment and who should die.”
Last week, 14 disability rights organizations and religious leaders filed a friend of the court brief in support of Baby Tinslee. The diverse coalition included Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi René H. Gracida, ADAPT Texas, NOT DEAD YET, Protect TX Fragile Kids, and more.
Over the last decade, and particularly in 2020, Texas Right to Life has assisted an increasing number of families who are frantically trying to protect the life of their loved one from the 10-Day Rule. The 10-Day Rule has robbed countless patients of their Right to Life and of their due process. While we pray for Tinslee and her mother, we also pray the court will strike down the deadly practice of the 10-Day Rule in the full trial.