Lawyers Say Governor Bush Can And Should Intervene On Terri
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 16, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Four attorneys have written Florida Governor Jeb Bush to inform him that he not only has the power -- he has the duty -- to stop the starvation death of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed Wednesday.
The attorneys pointed out that court orders allowing Terri, 39, to starve are violating her constitutionally-guaranteed "inalienable right to enjoy and defend life" regardless of her "physical disability."
Richard Thompson, chief counsel at the Thomas More Law Center, said the governor also has "sufficient evidence" to "conduct a formal criminal investigation" into claims that Michael Schiavo abused his wife.
Bush on Wednesday told Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, that he would direct his legal staff to find a way to block the court order and have the feeding tube replaced. Bush previously supported the parents in court, but has said he does not have any authority over the courts.
About 100 disability advocates and right-to-life supporters have been holding an around-the-clock vigil outside the hospice where Terri has stayed for the last several years. According to one report, Terri's parents have received 10,000 email and other messages supporting their efforts to keep Terri alive.
Terri collapsed from a chemical imbalance in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Some doctors have said her brain was damaged to the point that she is in a "persistent vegetative state" and will not recover, but would likely survive to age 51.
Her husband, who is also her guardian, has claimed that his wife told him she would not want to live by "artificial means". Even though Terri breathes and controls her own blood pressure, Mr. Schiavo petitioned the court in 1998 to have the feeding tube removed which provides her with food and water. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's position, except when a court ordered her feeding tube reinstalled two days after being removed in April 2001.
Terri's parents insist that their daughter is often alert, that she laughs with them, tries to talk, and could benefit from rehabilitation including speech and swallowing therapies. They believe Mr. Schiavo wants Terri to die so he can have what's left of a $1 million malpractice settlement from 1993, and because he wants to marry his longtime girlfriend, with whom he now has a child and another on the way.
In a related story, a neurologist who reviewed a video tape of Terri's interactions with her mother, called her starvation death "murder".
"She turned to her mom, responded to mom in the room, there was no doubt this woman had minimal but definite cognizant function, she was not in a vegetative state," said Dr. Jacob Green. "She's alive . . . there's no question in my mind she is not brain dead."
"Lawyers to Jeb Bush: You Have the Power to Save Terri Schiavo" (NewsMax.com)
"Local Doctor Plays Part in Schiavo Case" (First Coast News -- includes video clips)
"Parents of woman in life or death legal battle say hope remains" (Herald-Tribune)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation