Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Who makes an infant’s end-of-life decision?

Abortion | A 10-month-old girl is at the center of a debate over Texas’ ‘10-day rule’
by Mary Jackson
Posted 12/23/19, 05:01 pm

A Texas hospital wants to end treatment for a terminally ill 10-month-old girl against her family’s wishes, triggering a debate over a state law that opponents say gives medical professionals more power than parents.

Last week, Texas Fourth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion granted Trinity Lewis, the mother of Tinslee, until Jan. 2, 2020, to find another healthcare facility to care for her daughter before allowing Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth to withdraw life-sustaining measures.

Tinslee has been at Cook Children’s since February when she was born prematurely with a rare heart defect, chronic lung disease, and severe high blood pressure. Since July, Tinslee has required sedation, ventilation, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that oxygenates the blood in place of the heart and lungs.

The hospital relied on the state’s “10-day rule,” which is intended to go in effect when a family and doctors differ on ending a patient’s life-sustaining treatment. The law states that if the hospital cannot find another facility to provide treatment for the patient within 10 days, doctors can remove life support with the approval of the hospital’s ethics committee.

Officials at Cook Children’s said they have asked more than 20 facilities to take Tinslee under their care, but they all agreed that further treatment is futile. Pro-life groups are split on this case.

Texas Right to Life is among the groups helping the Lewis family find another place to take Tinslee before time runs out. Tinslee’s family maintains she needs more time to get better. Her mother said that despite her daughter’s sedation, she smiles, squeezes her hand, and indicates likes and dislikes.

Sixteen Republican state lawmakers sent Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, a letter, asking him to call a special session to repeal the 10-day rule. They called the law “unethical” and “unjust,” adding, “The decision to love and care for a family member with long-term health complications and disabilities belongs to the patient and her family––not a hospital committee.”

But the doctors and nurses at Cooks Children’s who have been caring for Tinslee told the judge she is suffering and in pain. Texas Alliance for Life director Joe Pojman supports the state’s 10-day rule and joined other pro-life groups in filing a friend-of-the-court brief last week supporting the hospital’s decision to remove Tinslee’s life support.

Pojman said his group attended Tinslee’s court hearing and listened to eight hours of testimony, including medical staff who described her condition as worsening and terminal. “We go to the mat for life every day,” he said. “But that does not mean that we want patients to suffer with medical torture merely to prolong their death.”

Rosemary Stein, a pediatrician from Burlington, N.C., and a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, disagreed. “Suffering is a sign of human life … a sign that Tinslee is not in a vegetative state,” she said. “She brings smiles and joy to people. … I can’t see that pushing a button to end her life is humane.”

Stein said in her nearly three decades of treating children, she has seen many who survived rare and seemingly hopeless diagnoses. Doctors kept some alive with ECMO—though none for as long as Tinslee—and even pronounced them dead several times, Stein said, adding, “Infants’ ability to recuperate is incredible. As doctors, we think we know which ones will survive. … I’ve learned to trust a mother’s intuition.”

Tinslee’s difficult case resembles others in recent years, including Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, two children who died in British hospitals after doctors removed life support against their parents’ wishes.

Matthew Eppinette, director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, said these cases highlight the need for an outside ethical review committee, one without ties to the hospital, to help families and doctors come to an agreement. He said that Texas’ 10-day rule seems to give hospitals “a great deal of decision-making power.”

South Carolina state Sen. Mia McLeod

Protecting unborn babies … and paying for them

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would protect unborn babies at six weeks of gestation from abortion, which is when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

At the same time, a state senator proposed a separate measure that would force the state to cover the expenses related to the birth and raising of babies who are saved from abortion. State Sen. Mia McLeod, a Democrat, said that women who are forced to keep their babies are acting as “gestational surrogates” for the state and should be compensated.

McLeod introduced the Pro Birth Accountability Act after the Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved the six-week protections for unborn babies last month. The heartbeat bill is expected to reach the full Senate for a vote in January, and Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, indicated he will sign it.

State Sen. John McCravy, a Republican and the lead sponsor of the heartbeat bill, told The Post and Courier of Charleston that McLeod’s bill ignores the help and assistance already available to new mothers through crisis pregnancy centers: “Not only is material and spiritual help already out there, but I believe most people recognize the infinite blessing of life given by our Creator.” —M.J.

Facebook/Lauren Chalk Facebook/Lauren Chalk Keith, Lauren, and Wyatt Chalk

An unexpected gift

A Tennessee woman gave birth to her first child only nine days after she found out she was pregnant.

Lauren Chalk went to see a doctor after Thanksgiving when her mother noticed she was “on edge” and suggested her hormones might be out of whack. Chalk then learned she was 38 weeks and five days pregnant.

Chalk and her husband, Keith, had experienced miscarriages in the past, so she had given up on taking pregnancy tests. She was also diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome as a teenager, which causes irregular menstrual cycles.

On Dec. 2, Chalk gave birth to Wyatt, who weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

“We didn’t have time to stress ourselves out,” she said. “I think that God planned all of it to be the way that it was.”

Chalk called her son “the “best Christmas gift since Jesus.” —M.J.

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Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow her on Twitter @mbjackson77.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 12/24/2019 02:38 pm

    Regarding who should pay to support the babies whose mothers are “denied” abortions:

    Isn’t it interesting how the abortion promotion industry never seems to acknowledge that the pregnant mother shares in the responsibility for the pregnancy in the first place?  Sure, rape/incest/yada-yada. Like all women with unwanted pregnancies were “forced” into sex. I’ve looked up the percentages of pregnancies from rape and incest, so I’m not going to bother doing it now, but it’s low. Like two or three percent. 

    Like a lot of troublesome events in life, unwanted pregnancies result in many cases as a consequence of unthinking irresponsible behavior. 

    And being human, all of us have a tendency to try to push the blame for our problems off on someone else. 

    Making an innocent child your fall-guy is really reprehensible. 

    Being a radical of sorts, I would offer a solution though:  unwanted pregnancy, Miss? You’ve come to the right place. Just sign here, you’ll be cared for through your pregnancy, deliver your child, then he or she will be adopted by loving parents, your parental rights forever terminated, and your tubes will be tied before you leave the hospital. Thank you for coming in today. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 12/24/2019 02:44 pm

    Lord, please continue to greatly bless Wyatt and Lauren and Keith Chalk!

    And please miraculously heal Tinslee Lewis and bless her mother Trinity and the rest of her family, and those who are fighting for Tinslee’s life!

  • jsandin
    Posted: Wed, 12/25/2019 02:06 pm

    It is noteworthy that numerous prestigious children's hospitals around the country have declined to accept transfer of this tragic patient, having nothing more to offer than Cook.  This makes the 10 day rule moot and extending it futile.  The patient is not brain dead and thus, insensate.  She indeed can feel pain.  Her suffering is open ended with no end in sight, as is that of her loved ones.  This is the basis for the compassionate and ethical medical opinion expressed by the team of experts who have dealt daily with this complex illness.  Medical futility has been reached and must be acknowledged by both care givers and loved ones.  This precious baby will be free of pain in heaven.  Such knowledge brings comfort and closure for the family down here.  I write as a father whose 17 month old son developed bacterial meningitis, failed to respond to treatment, went on life support, and arrived at medical futility.  My wife and I prayed for a miracle but yielded to God's soverignty.   We faced the decision to discontinue artificial life support, recognizing it was only prolonging his death.  God, and His people, comforted us.  Blessings and ministry in many forms ensued from our tragedy.

    Question for the editor:  Does the photo accompanying this article depict accurately the present condition of the patient?

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Thu, 12/26/2019 06:22 pm

    Many immature, afraid, naive, hard-hearted, and just plain too-young women grow and mature over time into sensible, responsible, caring adults, who later become wonderful parents. While abortion is a truly, truly sad situation that transgresses God's plan for humanity, I don't feel that a woman who had one merits permanent, state-enforced sterilization as punishment. In our country, even murderous rapists aren't castrated as part of their punishment. Although describing a different, yet similar situation, it wasn't for nothing that God himself included John 8:3-11 in our Bible. Oh, and the last information I received is that it takes two to make a child. Did I hear anyone say that the abortive father should be castrated for life? What was that about pushing the blame off on someone else? Some attitudes never change, even among Bible quoting Christians. And BTW, I don't agree with Mia McLeod. She's the one who seems hard-hearted to me. However, I think that sending taxpayer money to the already existing not-for-profits that minister to moms (and dads) of unwanted, unborn and newly born babies is a good idea. Also, taxpayer money going to support state-sponsored adoption might be a good idea as well. As everything else in this difficult world we live in, unwanted, unplanned for, and unprepared for pregnancies are a complex societal evil. One shoe hardly fits everyone.