Florida Supreme Court To Take Terri Schiavo Case
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 16, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA--The Florida Supreme Court has set August 31 as the date it will hear arguments in an appeal over the law that has kept Terri Schiavo alive since last October.
The court agreed Wednesday to hear the case without having it go through the lower state Court of Appeal.
The case involves "Terri's Law", a measure the state legislature passed and Governor Jeb Bush signed a few days after Terri's feeding tube was removed under a court order on October 16. The law compelled doctors to reinsert the feeding tube so Terri could again receive food and water.
Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and guardian, immediately sued the governor, claiming the law was unconstitutional because it violated his wife's right to privacy and gave the governor too much power to overrule Florida courts.
Last month, Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird agreed with Mr. Schiavo. Attorneys for the governor then appealed Baird's decision.
On June 2, the Florida 2nd Court of Appeal asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual appeals process and rule directly on the governor's challenge.
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 the gastronomy tube installed through the wall of her stomach.
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.
Also on Wednesday, an attorney for the Schindlers asked Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer to decide whether Mr. Schiavo has the right to act on his wife's behalf in the case against Bush. They claim that he has not provided proper care for Terri, and should be removed as her guardian.
Greer's decision is pending.
Disability rights advocates have campaigned for years to keep Terri alive. Her death by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living, they say. After Terri's feeding tube was removed last October, disability rights advocates joined right-to-life groups in flooding the offices of the governor and key lawmakers with tens of thousands of messages, asking for them to act on Terri's behalf. "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.
Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman for Governor Bush, said Wednesday, "We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court about why the Legislature and the governor should partner with the courts in protecting our most vulnerable citizens."
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation