Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the District Court of Tarrant County in support of a nine-month-old baby girl who is fighting for her life.
Tinslee Lewis has been on a ventilator and a machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs since July. Cooks Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth denied the Tinslee's mother's request to continue life-sustaining treatment for her.
Texas law currently allows a hospital's "ethics" committee to vote to remove life-sustaining treatment against a patient's wishes. The physician's decision to end treatment directly violates Tinslee's mother's request and Tinslee's right to life.
"One of the core principles provided by the United States Constitution is that no person should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law," Attorney General Paxton said. "This unconstitutional statute infringes on patients' right to life and does not allow patients and their families sufficient notice and the opportunity to be heard before physicians override the rights of their patients. Patients must be heard and justly represented when determining their own medical treatment, especially when the decision to end treatment could end their life."
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Currently, section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code states that a physician who decides that treatment is medically inappropriate - along with an ethics or medical committee that affirm the decision - is not required to provide life-sustaining treatment at the request of a patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless a court orders otherwise.
The statute also fails to require that physicians provide an explanation of why they refused life-sustaining treatment, effectively allowing the government to deny an individual's right to his or her own life and to do so without due process.
On Tuesday, a judge extended a temporary restraining order against Cook Children's Medical Center until Dec. 10, giving the family more time to find a new facility to take Tinslee.