Michael Schiavo Violates Wife's Constitutional Rights, Her Parents
Claim In Federal Suit
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 23, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Bob and Mary Schindler filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, claiming he is violating the constitutional rights of their daughter, Terri Schiavo.
The Schindlers are asking for Mr. Schiavo to be removed as Terri's guardian and for a federal injunction to block the scheduled October 15 removal of the feeding tube that is keeping her alive.
U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara scheduled a hearing in the case for October 10. He also set October 6 as the deadline for Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist to let the court know whether his office plans to intervene.
According to the Associated Press, the Schindlers' lawsuit also alleges that a conspiracy exists between Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer and Michael Schiavo in pushing to end Terri's life.
Since 1990, Terri has been in what some doctors describe as a "persistent vegetative state" from which they believe she cannot recover. Mr. Schiavo first petitioned in May 1998 to have removed the feeding tube which provides Terri with food and water. He claims Terri told him that she would not have wanted to live "in this condition".
Terri's parents and their supporters, along with several experts and former caregivers, say that Terri responds to her surroundings, laughs, follows some instructions and has tried to say "help me" and "mommy". They want Mr. Schiavo to use some of the $700,000 set aside from an insurance settlement to pay for rehabilitative therapies, including speech and swallowing therapies.
Mr. Schiavo has refused.
Judge Greer's decisions regarding Terri have consistently sided with her husband. The state Court of Appeals has also sided with Greer and Michael Schiavo.
Last month, Greer ignored a request from Governor Jeb Bush to wait on scheduling the removal of Terri's feeding tube until a special guardian could be appointed to look into her case and "provide the court with an unbiased view that considers" her best interests.
Bush told Greer that he would not normally write a judge about a current legal proceeding, but noted that his office received 27,000 e-mails "reflecting understandable concern for the well being" of Terri Schiavo.
Disability groups are watching the case carefully. Many worry that Terri's death by starvation will send a message that people with certain disabilities are not worth keeping alive.
The U.S. and Florida supreme courts have refused to hear the case.
"Disabled patient's parents sue" (Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel)
Terri Schiavo's Right To Live (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation