Schindlers Appeal Judge's Efforts To Block Them From Schiavo Suit;
Family Takes Case To Oprah Show
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 17, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Attorneys representing the parents of 39-year-old Terri Schiavo on Friday appealed a judge's decision that blocked them from joining Governor Jeb Bush in Michael Schiavo's challenge to the law that is keeping their daughter alive.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is appealing Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird's decision to not allow Bob and Mary Schindler to intervene in the suit filed by Mr. Schaivo against the governor. The suit challenged the constitutionality of "Terri's Law", which was passed by the legislature to give Bush the authority to have Terri's feeding tube replaced on October 21, six days after it had been removed under a court order.
Mr. Schiavo's attorneys, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), had argued that the Schindlers should not be allowed to participate, because the suit simply involves the question of whether the governor and legislature have the power to override court rulings. Baird sided with Mr. Schiavo.
"It is important that the parents of Terri Schindler Schiavo be directly involved in defending the law that is keeping their daughter alive," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ on Friday.
"The actions taken by the state legislature and the governor were not only appropriate but constitutional as well. Since 'Terri's Law' faces a serious legal challenge, it is only appropriate that the court permit Terri's parents to become a party in this case - to be directly involved - in the battle to save the life of their daughter."
Also on Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued an indefinite stay in the legal battle. Mr. Schiavo was to explain by Tuesday why his challenge to "Terri's Law" should be sped up.
Terri Schiavo's case has been watched closely by disability rights advocates for several years. Her husband and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed from an apparent heart attack in February 1990 and was without oxygen for several minutes. The courts have supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live. A local judge ordered doctors to remove the gastronomy tube that provides Terri with food and water on October 15.
Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she might improve with rehabilitative therapies that Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They claim that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can marry another woman with whom he has fathered two children, and so he can benefit from what's left of an insurance settlement that now pays for her treatment.
The Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilities is investigating the Schindlers claims that Mr. Schiavo has neglected and abused Terri and that he may have caused Terri's initial collapse, perhaps by strangulation.
The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging, Governor Bush championed the bill that gave him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted on October 21, and to appoint an independent guardian to review her situation and provide the governor with recommendations.
Last Friday, the Schindler family appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to present their case.
"Schindlers to Intervene in Case to Defend 'Terri's Law'" (Cybercast News Service)
"Was Terri Schiavo Beaten in 1990?" column by Nat Hentoff (The Village Voice)
Background and past stories: "Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation