A baby girl with a terminal illness will effectively be killed within a week, according to a Texas judge’s decision on Thursday that allows a hospital to remove the 11-month-old from life support.
CBS News reported that Tinslee Lewis “has a rare heart defect and suffers from chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure. She hasn’t come off a ventilator since going into respiratory arrest in early July and requires full respiratory and cardiac support, deep sedation and to be medically paralyzed.”
Lewis’ doctors have called the case futile and insist there is nothing more than can be done to help the baby girl, who is suffering from pain and has a grim prognosis from a condition that does not improve. But Lewis’ mother has remained optimistic and filed an injunction to keep the state of Texas from enforcing its “10-day rule,” which CBS News said “can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors who say life-sustaining treatment should be stopped. The law stipulates that if the hospital’s ethics committee agrees with doctors, treatment can be withdrawn after 10 days if a new provider can’t be found to take the patient.”
On Thursday, that injunction was denied by Texas Court of Appeals Judge Sandee Bryan Marion. Because no other hospital has agreed to take over caring for Tinslee Lewis — “all agreed that further care is futile,” CBS News reported — it would appear that legal options have all but run out.
“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is not worth living,” Lewis’ mother, Trinity Lewis, said in a statement published by CBS Dallas Fort Worth. “I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee.”
A pre-arranged agreement stipulated that if the judge sided with the hospital that Tinslee wouldn’t be removed from life support for a week, a time period that could allow her mother to try to file more legal paperwork in another attempt to prevent the inevitable from occurring.
Texas’ governor and other officials expressed sympathy after the ruling on Thursday and pledged to help Trinity Lewis during her expected appeal.
The debate over “life support vs. “death support” is not new. Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CNN in 2013 that keeping terminally ill patients on life support gives “the impression that dead people can come back to life.”
The infant mortality rate is disproportionately higher for Black children, according to statistics compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Black infants’ mortality rate was at more than 11 percent, compared to 5 percent for Hispanics and 4 percent for “other.” There was no infant mortality rate provided for whites.