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Michael Schiavo Requests Dismissal Of Federal Lawsuit; Disability Groups File Brief Supporting Terri Schiavo's Right To Live
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Michael Schiavo asked a judge Monday to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed against him by his wife's mother and father, calling for him to be removed as her legal guardian.

The suit was brought by Bob and Mary Schindler who claimed Mr. Schiavo violated the rights of their daughter, Terri Schiavo, by blocking rehabilitative therapies that, among other things, might help her swallow food and liquids. It seeks an injunction to stop the scheduled removal of Terri's feeding tube on October 15, and alleges a conspiracy between Mr. Schiavo and Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who has repeatedly sided with him.

U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara has scheduled a hearing on the federal suit for this coming Friday, October 10.

Last Friday, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist clarified a legal issue for Lazzara, but told the judge the state would not intervene in the case.

On Monday, 14 disability groups and individuals filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief supporting Terri's parents in fighting to keep her alive. They include: Not Dead Yet, ADAPT, American Association of People with Disabilities, Center for Self-Determination, Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, Rev. Rus Cooper-Dowda, Hospice Patients' Alliance, Dr. James Hall, National Council on Independent Living, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, TASH, World Association of Persons with Disabilities, and the World Institute on Disability.

"This case reflects whether our society and legal system values the lives of people with disabilities equally to those without disabilities," said Max Lapertosa, the attorney who represents those filing the brief.

Terri was 26 years old in February 1990, when she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then she has been breathing on her own, but is in what some doctors describe as a "persistent vegetative state" from which they believe she cannot recover.

Mr. Schiavo claims that Terri told him in casual conversations before her collapse that she would not have wanted to be kept alive by a machine. He first petitioned in May 1998 to remove the feeding tube which provides Terri with food and water. Judge Greer has consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo, as has the state Court of Appeals.

Terri's parents, along with over a dozen medical professionals and former caregivers, argue that Terri responds to her surroundings, laughs, follows some instructions and has tried to say "help me" and "mommy". They have wanted Mr. Schiavo to use some of the nearly $800,000 set aside from an insurance settlement to pay for rehabilitative therapies, including speech and swallowing therapies. Mr. Schiavo has refused.

More than 40,000 names have been added to an Internet petition directed at Governor Jeb Bush, calling for him to have the state intervene on Terri's behalf. In late August, Bush did ask Judge Greer to delay scheduling the removal of Terri's feeding tube while a special guardian is appointed to provide an unbiased view supporting her best interests.

Greer commented that he respected the governor's opinion. "Beyond that, it is going in the file," he said.

Related articles:
"9 days left for Schindler-Schiavo" (World Net Daily)
"Murder is legal if we say so" Commentary by Barbara Simpson (World Net Daily)

Related resources:
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
Pray For Terri


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