Cook Children’s Medical Center has been treating a celebrity patient for over a year: Tinslee Lewis, the gravely ill baby whose fragile grip on life support has withstood constant legal onslaught for nearly her entire short life. Thanks to an order from the U.S. Supreme Court, the child once doomed to die last year will celebrate her second birthday in February.
Tinslee came into the world in February of 2019 a prematurely born baby suffering from Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare and often terminal heart disease that has required constant intensive care at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
After an unsuccessful surgery, doctors at the hospital decided to unhook Tinslee’s ventilator under the 10-Day Rule of the Texas Advance Directives Act, a law that allows doctors to refuse care without liability after invoking a review before their hospital’s ethics committee.
An eleventh-hour temporary court order kept Tinslee on life support for a time before a district court judge initially ruled in favor of the hospital. The Lewis family appealed and found favor at a higher Texas appeals court in July of 2020, which reversed the first decision and ruled that Tinslee could remain on life support. This decision withstood appeals to the Texas Supreme Court and, as of yesterday, to the U.S. Supreme Court as well.
America’s highest court denied the hospital’s request for a writ of certiorari, allowing the lower court’s opinion in favor of Lewis to stand.
The conflict rests on the question of whether the law sees the doctors that decide to pull the plug as state actors instead of private actors. In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, the hospital called the Texas Advance Directives Act a necessary protection for the conscience of doctors.
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SOURCE: The Texan, Isaiah Mitchell