By Christopher White, National Correspondent
NEW YORK — As a battle rages over whether a Texas hospital can remove an 11-month old from life support, one Catholic bishop is offering assistance to the family.
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas has offered his help following a judge’s order on Jan. 2 that the hospital, which believes the infant, Tinslee Lewis, is in pain and has no chance of improving, can remove life-sustaining treatment.
Bishop Olson offered to provide “compassion and appropriate care for her in a Catholic health care facility.”
“Healthcare decisions involving the vulnerable and severely ill are best made in the patient’s interests by family and healthcare providers and not by judges, by politicians, or lobbyists,” he said in a statement.
Bishop Olson also said his offer was made to provide support in finding “the best quality of life” for both the infant and her family
According to the hospital, the 11-month old Tinslee is on a regular supply of painkillers, sedatives and paralytics in order to be kept alive.
“Even with the most extraordinary measures the medical team is taking, Tinslee continues to suffer,” said a statement from Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Plans to remove the infant from life support were invoked under Texas’s “ten day rule,” which allows for doctors to remove life-sustaining treatment when a family and doctors disagree, if the ethics committee agrees with the doctors. Treatment is then withdrawn after a ten-day window if the family is unsuccessful at finding another medical care facility – hence Bishop Olson’s offer.
In a statement through Texas’s Right to Life, Tinslee’s mother said “I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby.”
In February 2018, however, the bishops of Texas cut ties with Texas’s Right to Life, noting that the organization “has implied that the bishops do not faithfully represent Church teaching.”
In a statement at the time, the Texas Catholic Conference noted that some of the disagreements were over end-of-life decision-making.
“The bishops have been compelled to publicly correct Texas Right to Life’s misstatements on end-of-life care and advance directives, in which Texas Right to Life implied that the legislation the bishops were supporting allowed euthanasia and death panels rather than the reality that the legislation reflected the long-standing Church teaching requiring a balance of patient autonomy and the physician conscience protection,” the statement said.
Following the judge’s decision on Thursday regarding baby Tinslee, Texas Alliance for Life, which continues to work with the Texas Catholic Conference, said that “we don’t see how she could have ruled any other way.”
“This case centers around the dispute resolution process within the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA). We don’t see how she could have ruled any other way,” said executive director Joe Pojman.
“As we have stated previously, Texas Alliance for Life supports TADA. It is good public policy, it is constitutional, and it provides a balance between the patient’s autonomy and the physician’s conscience protection rights to do no harm,” Pojman continued.
“We are praying for the family and all involved in Tinslee’s care,” he concluded.