Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Upcoming Talk at the University of Texas at Arlington on February 3, 2020

I'm happy to let you know that I've been asked by the UTD Pro-Life Mavericks to give a talk on involuntary passive euthanasia provision that is part of the Texas Advance Directives Act and an update on Baby Tinslee's case (what I can say publicly, that is). 

I'll be there on Monday, February 3, 2020, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The talk will be in "The Commons" at 440 West Nedderman Drive, Arlington, Texas 76013. There is a parking garage nearby at 804 UTA Blvd. 

All are welcome so I hope to see you there! 

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A RePost: Wesley J. Smith Writes about Baby Tinslee

As you know, I admire Wesley J. Smith a great deal. (He's quoted in the side panel as well.) He is a world-renowned bioethicist (as in, he is a real ethicist; you know, one with actual ethics). I've written here about him coming to Texas as recently as last spring to testify on a bill, SB 2089, which I covered extensively, which would have prevented this mess we're in with Baby Tinslee (and helped and saved so many others in Texas, now and in the future). 

He just posted an article that very clearly and succinctly boils down the issues here - and let's make no mistake - the issues are the same no matter who the patient is, what their diagnoses, prognoses, or any other particular may be. 

He writes: 
Please pay attention to this point: The patient is not refused care that is failing. No, the treatment is withdrawn because it is working keeping the patient alive — when continued life is precisely what the doctors/bioethicists don’t want. In other words, strangers have the ultimate power to decidethis most intimate of decisions instead of patients and families.
(Emphasis by Smith.)

This is the critical point in every case I've been involved in. He made this same point in his testimony last spring. You can read his written testimony in its entirety or watch his oral testimony. Now, think about the implications of this in general. Read the entire article. It's short and to the point. 

He concludes:
Let’s assume that both parents and doctors are all acting in good faith and want the best for Tinslee. The bottom line here is who should have the final say in making such a crucial and ultimate decision? Parents who love their baby and have to be presumed — absent proof — that they have their child’s best interests at heart, or doctors/bioethicists who believe that their “quality of life” beliefs should trump even the decisions of parents? 
I vote parents. The Texas law should be overturned in this appeal or repealed by the Texas Legislature — as I have testified in support of previously.

We agree, Mr. Smith. We agree.

Please keep praying for all involved in this case and the overall issues at stake here which go well beyond this case.  

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Update on Baby Tinslee (Updated)

Updated to include an image of the press release by Protect TX Fragile Kids, below.

There was a press conference held today by Tinslee's family, lead counsel, Joe Nixon, Texas Right to Life, and Protect TX Fragile Kids. The entire thing is embedded above. Expect to see clips of/quote from it on local and even national media.

There is great interest in this case for obvious reasons. Your right to determine your medical care, your rights as a parent, and even your right to live is at stake. Section 166.046 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, part of the Texas Advance Directives Act ("TADA"), is not a dispute resolution process. It is far from it.

As Joe Nixon said in the press conference:
We’re going to go to the end – not just for her but for you. For every patient in every Texas hospital, this fight needs to be resolved favorably. Not just for Trinity and Tinslee, but for you and your family as well. 

For her part, when asked what her greatest fear was, Trinity said:

I’m not going to say my biggest fear is losing her because I know that everybody has to pass away, but my fear is them pulling the without me… being able to make that decision for her.

Those of us who fight TADA are often accused of "not getting it" and of "not knowing when to let go." Those are not the words of a mother who does not "get it" or "know when to let go." Listen to the rest of the press conference and the hope that there is for this child.

Regarding the press conference, I posted this about it on social media:

Trinity, Tinslee's mother, along with her advocates and legal counsel (one of them anyway, 😉), just set the record straight. The audio is a little hard to hear, but you can make it out and this is the entire press conference. [NOTE: The video embedded here is a good version, easy to hear.]
As I've indicated, things have not been accurately portrayed. Until now, we've remained quiet about it and worked as hard as we could behind the scenes on the legal and transfer issues. (Let me tell you, this has been hard for me in particular. As a pro-life activist and blogger, I like the record being clear and public, but that is not always appropriate once litigation starts and I'm involved as an attorney. So for those that have been asking me questions I cannot answer, this is why.)  
But some things needed to be made public today - by the family and their lead attorney - not through the press releases and conferences held by Cook, which does not have the permission of Trinity to discuss Tinslee's case publicly (although it has, repeatedly). Listen to this carefully.  
An important highlight here is that Tinslee is a candidate for other procedures to treat her underlying conditions and other facilities if she had a trach. Cook has refused to trach her even before it invoked the statute to remove her life-sustaining care against Trinity's wishes. (I understand that well before invoking the statute; it initially offered to do it then rescinded that offer almost immediately.) Efforts are ongoing - on our part - to find a doctor who will come here to do that. This child is not terminal, nor is she - as Cook has repeatedly said even under oath in court - "hopeless." Our people have talked to physicians who have said this time and again - she is not hopeless or terminal, but does need a trach to make progress toward other things. There is more, so please listen to the entire thing.  
Now, please pray as those of us working on this case do our parts as well as we can to get this child transferred and fight this unconstitutional statute. As Attorney Joe Nixon said, this is not just for Tinslee but for all of you. As Trinity said, she wants to be the one to make the decisions for her child - as you should for you and your family.

Here is the press release from PTFK:

So, that's where things are and what I can say publicly for now, except to add two things: First, the only ones with access to firsthand information and authority to discuss Tinslee's medical condition in any detail are Tinslee's legal team, especially Joe Nixon, Texas Right to Life, and Protect TX Fragile Kids (which is working on finding placement for Tinslee, among other things). Such information from any other "source" will not have firsthand information and/or authority to discuss the medical details of the case. Remember, there are HIPAA laws to protect unauthorized use and sharing of private medical information. Those are taken seriously. 

Second, in the press conference Joe Nixon gave an update on the status of the appeal, on which I am working as well, so I will not say more than that. Public filings are available here. He also mentioned the Dunn appeal

Please do continue praying for all involved - and I mean everyone involved. In Orthodoxy, we are constantly reminded that we must pray for everyone, including especially those with whom we disagree or...worse. It is a good lesson for us all and one I work very hard to adhere to myself. 

Pray also for others who may be or are in the crosshairs of TADA. Yes, there are others. It seems there are always others. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The 10-Day Law (aka TADA) is NOT a "Dispute Resolution Process"

"Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil;
that put darkness for light and light for darkness...!" Isaiah 5:20, KJV

I keep reading statements made by those who support Texas' draconian 10-Day Law - which I have often referred to here as TADA (it is Texas Health & Safety Code Sec. 166.046 of the Texas Advance Directives Act) - as a "dispute resolution process." They describe it as if it is a give-and-take, back-and-forth dialogue between a patient and their doctor with equal consideration given to all viewpoints and an agreed upon resolution. That is NOT how it is used; that is NOT what it is by the very language of the statute itself. 

I have described how the process works as well as the Constitutional due process violations inherent in the law most recently here. In this post, I also explained TADA in great detail including why it deprives patients of their rights to due process. You can see similar posts throughout this blog. 

Nothing defenders of this law say contradicts any of this. It simply cannot be contradicted because that is literally how the law is written. That is the effect of the law. It is both facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to patients. That there is a "procedure" in place does not mean that there is due process. Due process is a particular legal term with certain requirements, e.g., the right to be heard, to have counsel, to be heard before an impartial tribunal, to appeal, etc. Not a single one of those exists in TADA. You may attend the hearing, you may or may not be allowed to speak. You have no right to speak. You are not entitled to counsel, you may be allowed it, but you have no right to it. And so forth and so on as I described in the links above.

Important for you to know is that those that describe it this way do not in any way help patients navigate the system at all. They have little to no firsthand knowledge of how this law actually works in the real world and certainly not from the patient's point of view. They don't help place patients in a new facility. They do not understand the special challenges involved in trying to save lives under these extraordinary circumstances. They do not retain lawyers to help anyone attempt to get a Temporary Restraining Order to try to get more time to transfer a patient. Again, they do not know how the system works in this context. Texas Right to Life certainly does. To a much lesser, but growing extent, so do I. So do many of us that oppose it. In fact, no one that supports it is involved in how it actually works for the patient. Keep that in mind. 

With no hint of irony, they like to claim that any media entity or anyone criticizing this law is "uninformed" or "confused" about it. I've been watching this for years. People asking these questions  are not confused or uninformed. In fact, they are digging into it. I've been asked dozens of questions in the last two weeks about it. As intellectually honest people learn more about this little known risk to their lives, they are horrified. They cannot believe that their right to life could be taken so hastily and with no recourse. 

What they actually do is work to keep this law in place and continue to deprive patients and their families of their Constitutional rights to life and due process under the law. And they ally with pro-abortion entities to keep this law in place. 

The result of all of their efforts is a continuation of involuntary passive euthanasia. Here is a reminder of why some of us call it that: 

Let me begin with a note about terminology. I've discussed this before but let me recap. Why do I refer to TADA as "involuntary passive euthanasia"? First, TADA allows a hospital to withdraw your life-sustaining care against your will; it does not require anyone to consider your thoughts on the matter at all. Thus, if it is used against you against your will, you are subjected to something that is involuntary. Second, "passive euthanasia" is distinguished from "active euthanasia." "Passive euthanasia"is death brought about by the denial of something without which you will die. It can be air (ventilators), nutrition, hydration, etc. "Active euthanasia," on the other hand, is that which Jack Kevorkian promoted - a shot or pills, etc. are administered - to directly and quickly bring about your death. TADA allows for passive, but not active euthanasia. But allowing the one sets up a slippery slope. There have already been calls to allow active euthanasia in Texas. 

The primary pro-TADA faux life group releasing press statements - in which they admit that they have only second-hand information - also claims it does not support euthanasia. Interestingly enough, it does just that by supporting this law. Indeed, it's own staffers have written in support of euthanasia (although they did not actually call it by that name, what they described is the very definition of it).

They also like to say or heavily imply that the Courts have rejected a Constitutional challenge to TADA. That is inherently, demonstrably false. I explained that here. The Courts have never addressed the merits of the law. In other words, the Courts have not said it is Constitutional. They have just not ruled on that at all. The appeal was rejected because the Court decided that the entire case became moot upon the person's (Chris Dunn's) death. That is not a correct holding and it has been appealed. The Texas Supreme Court initially rejected the Petition for Review, but a Motion for Rehearing has been filed and it has not decided that at this time. As I mentioned in that post, I am one of the attorneys on the case and I will say no more about it right now other than that. But what I have said is all a matter of public record. You can easily pull the briefs and opinions and read them yourself.

One other thing the Usual Suspects like to claim is that this law is about protecting doctors' consciences and that to continue caring for a patient is to "force the hand of the doctor." I - and many others - have repeatedly said that different doctors have different consciences and the solution here is to transfer care to another doctor or facility, but with sufficient time to do so. I have never received an answer as to why the only solution they will contemplate is killing a patient by withdrawing their life-sustaining care against their will if a person cannot be transferred in 10 days. (See, e.g., here and here.) The amount of time here is not enough. Full sets of documents cannot even usually by acquired by then. Often, much of that 10 days falls on weekends, as in the case for Tinslee. Remember, also that the Usual Suspects  still inexplicably opposed an amendment to TADA that would extend the time to transfer to 45 days. 

One would think that after the Carolyn Jones debacle, and the amount of egg on so many faces, that these types would back off at least from publicly trying to glom onto a case to attempt damage control and try to gain their own publicity without firsthand information. They really never learn. 

So there you have it: a few clarifications of some of the things you may see floating around out there. Trust the information coming from those with firsthand information about Tinslee's case, how this law works in the real world, and those who are truly pro-life from conception to natural death with no exceptions. There is only one such group in Texas: Texas Right to Life. They will be putting out updates from time to time that I will try to link here just to keep the record up-to-date, so to speak. Often times it is useful to come back and review things. 

Please keep praying for Baby Tinslee and all involved. Pray for the conversion to life of all people.

Thanks for reading! 

Update on Baby Tinslee: More Time Granted

Texas Right to Life has this update on Baby Tinslee:

Baby Tinslee Lewis, the 9-month-old at the center of a 10-day dispute with Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, will be protected until December 10, 2019. Texas Right to Life’s lawyers and Cook Children’s agreed to extend the temporary restraining order, allowing our patient advocacy team more time to secure a transfer.  
Originally, the TRO was set to expire this Friday, November 22. 
We praise God for this extension of time, which grants Tinslee more than a month of life after the hospital was initially set to pull the plug on the baby on November 10. 
We call on Governor Greg Abbott to convene a special session to end this deadly 10-Day Rule.

Please keep praying as this process continues...for everyone involved on all sides. And, do please call the Governor and ask for a Special Session to end this law.

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

More on Tinslee & the Law: CBS 11 DFW's Report (Wherein I'm Interviewed)

Baby Tinslee is being represented by the very best attorneys, Joseph M. Nixon and Emily Cook, who is with Texas Right to Life. But they are both in Houston. Today, the local DFW CBS affiliate called Joe and asked him for an on-camera interview. He was not able to, so I got the call to step in for him and also serve as a spokesperson for Texas Right to Life. 

The media is asking keen questions about this law and how in the world this situation can happen. That is great news! They were shocked that so few know of this law. They wanted answers as they continue to cover Tinslee's case - and to make people aware. This is the report that just aired and I think it was very well done.

The written article with video interviews are here. I was honored to be able to help explain this law and the effect it has on Texans and do my part to bring more awareness to it.

CBS 11 also interviewed Natalie Gregory of Protect Texas Fragile Kids, which has been advocating on behalf of Tinslee and children like her as well. Natalie's daughter has been on life-sustaining care to aid her breathing for many years; staring with a ventilator like Baby Tinslee. She is now five and thriving. That gives us such hope, doesn't it? All people deserve that chance.

I was grateful that in yet another context mention of a Special Session was made. Governor Abbott could help fix this by showing leadership and calling a Special Session to address this (and other issues that were not fixed during the Regular Session). The legislature could have if they had been willing. The Senate was and passed SB 2089. The House - at least certain key leadership - was not and killed the bill leaving Texans vulnerable to this law; the worst law of its kind in the nation. That wrong could be righted right now.

I pray that as people become more aware, they will demand change and that if the opposition to repealing this law cannot see the error of their ways, that at least politicians will realize that there are more voters than lobbyists. No one wants to have their life ended prematurely against their will. No reasonable person supports this.

I also pray that the law will be declared unconstitutional by the courts. However it happens, it needs to so that there are no more victims - or would-be victims - of this law!

Pray for Tinslee and all involved! Pray that a transfer can be secured.

Then please call your state representative, state senator, and Gov. Abbott and ask for a Special Session to pass the Lone Star Agenda!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

UPDATE on Baby Tinslee: More Time Granted by Court

Make no mistake about it - your calls and emails made all the difference! Thank you! 

Texas Right to Life is reporting a victory in the Baby Tinslee case: a judge signed a Temporary Restraining Order today - on a Sunday - which bars the hospital from withdrawing her life-sustaining care until November 22. At that point, things will have to be re-visited by the judge in the case. Hopefully, she can be transferred in the interim. How this will play out ultimately, only time will tell. But Tinslee has the very best representation. Continued prayers are very much needed for all involved. 

A press conference was held today where the family, Representatives Tony Tinderholt and Tan Parker, and Rich DeOtte, a board member of TRTL, spoke. Rich explained very clearly why this law is a problem and puts families in a crisis situation unnecessarily. All were very grateful for the reprieve and very complimentary of the care Tinslee has received at Cook Children's. There is no doubt, it is a very great hospital. 

That many may disagree with a decision to use TADA does not change that. It is very likely that only a few people made the decision to use it. Given some of the reporting, I sincerely doubt there is total unanimity among all doctors and staff with regard to involuntarily passively euthanizing Tinslee. Overall, it is a great hospital. But it should not be euthanizing children - and certainly not involuntarily. Texas law should not allow this. 

Cook Children's issued a statement today saying that the baby is suffering, care should be withdrawn, that they've tried to find other facilities, etc. We've seen this before. Of course, euthanizing someone to stop suffering is the very definition of mercy killing, which is prohibited under this statute, as I mentioned previously. Whether Tinslee is suffering is hard to know and her family does not seem to agree based on their interactions with her and their belief that she needs more time.

You should also note that many have lived very long lives on similar life-sustaining care as Tinslee; e.g., Steven Hawking. And, many defeat the odds. They just need some time. Tinslee is only 9 months old. Her family is just wanting more time and a chance to find another facility. Please pray for these efforts. 

The bottom line with all of these cases remains that this is a situation that no one should be in. Texas law allows a hospital (or a few people at a hospital) to choose to euthanize someone by way of withdrawing their life-sustaining care against that person or her family's will with no due process and a mere 10 days to find an alternative facility. 

Note that Tinslee's mother received the notice on Thursday, October 31. The 10th day was today, a Sunday. That means that 4 of the 10 days were weekend days; or 40% of the time she was given to find a new facility were weekends where administrative offices are closed. The final day was a Sunday. 

You should also know that there were many miracles that occurred along the way here that allowed this TRO to happen on a Sunday. Your prayers were answered. Please keep them coming. 

TRTL and others continue to ask Governor Abbott to call a special session to fix this, among other things, that didn't get done this past session. There is a call to action in TRTL's press release to that end. They are asking that your Senator be contacted for this effort. A link is provided where you can easily do so. 

It troubles me greatly to see this law invoked so frequently. That paints doctors and hospitals in a bad light, when many (most) do not deserve that. But, the fact is, lives are on the line every time it is invoked and action must be taken. The fact is, this is involuntary passive euthanasia. The fact is, patients do not have due process rights under the law here. The fact is, this is a part of the Culture of Death that must be opposed. 

Keep the faith and keep fighting the good fight. This is not over. But today, there was a victory along the way. 

Thanks for reading!