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Terri Schiavo Case To Be Fast-Tracked To Florida Supreme Court;
Attorneys Challenge Michael Schiavo's Guardianship

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004

LAKELAND, FLORIDA--The legal battle over Terri Schiavo's life will bypass a lower court to be moved quickly to the Florida Supreme Court, several news sources reported Wednesday.

The state's 2nd Court of Appeal agreed with attorneys representing Terri's husband, Michael, to allow his challenge to "Terri's Law" to go directly to the high court as soon as possible.

The law was championed by Governor Jeb Bush, and passed by the Legislature last October, allowing a feeding tube be reinserted into Terri's stomach just six days after it had been removed under a court order. Michael Schiavo immediately sued the governor claiming the law was unconstitutional because it violated Terri's right to privacy and gave the governor too much power to overrule Florida courts.

Last month, Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird sided with Mr. Schiavo. Attorneys for the governor have appealed Baird's decision.

The Supreme Court can choose to hear the case or send it back to the appeals court for its ruling.

Mr. Schiavo and several doctors have said that Terri, 40, has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. Terri breathes on her own, but requires food and water through a gastronomy tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

Mr. Schiavo has insisted for several years that his wife told him before the collapse that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means". He first petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube pulled in 1998.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought to keep their daughter alive. They claim that she is alert and responds to them and her environment, and would benefit from therapies that Mr. Schiavo has denied her. They suspect that their son-in-law has abused and exploited Terri and may have caused her initial collapse. They believe he wants his wife to die so he can marry a woman with home he has fathered two children.

On Tuesday, the governor's attorneys filed a motion requesting that all appeals be stopped until it is decided whether Mr. Schiavo has the authority to represent his wife in the case against Bush. The attorneys want a trial to determine whether Terri had ever indicated she wanted to die in such a situation.

An attorney for the Schindlers is also challenging Mr. Schiavo's capacity to represent his wife's interest in the case against the governor, according to the Associated Press.

"If he doesn't have the authority to act, he has no right to sue the governor," Pat Anderson said.

Disability rights advocates have watched Terri's situation closely, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. Last October, tens of thousands of disability rights and right-to-life advocates flooded the offices of the governor and key lawmakers to push for action on Terri's behalf after her feeding tube had been removed. "Terri's Law" was passed through the Legislature in near-record time, giving Bush permission to order the feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed.

"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation


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