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Michael Schiavo Accuses Governor Bush Of Subjecting Terri To 'Absolute Dictatorship'
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2004

TAMPA, FLORIDA--The husband and guardian of Terri Schiavo has accused Governor Jeb Bush of taking away "her most intimate personal rights" when he passed the law that has kept her alive for the last nine months.

In court documents filed Monday with the Florida Supreme Court, Michael Schiavo said his wife is "more akin to subjects of an absolute dictatorship than citizens of a democratic state."

Mr. Schiavo sued the governor for pushing "Terri's Law" through the Legislature last October, claiming the law violated Terri's privacy rights and the state constitution. The measure was written specifically to have Terri's feeding tube reinstalled six days after her husband had it removed under court order. Bush championed the measure after disability rights advocates and right-to-life groups flooded his office and those of lawmakers with tens of thousands of messages calling for them to save Terri's life.

Mr. Schiavo's attorney wrote that the governor's action forced 40-year-old Terri from her death bed and had her forcibly operated on against her will, according to various media reports.

A Bush spokesman said Monday that the governor's office had not yet seen the filing and could not comment.

The state's high court is expected to hear arguments in the case on August 31.

Mr. Schiavo and several doctors believe that Terri has been in a "persistent vegetative state" -- in which she is not aware of her surroundings and cannot respond to others -- since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen in February 1990. He has insisted for several years that Terri told him before her brain injury that she would not want to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought their son-in-law in court to keep their daughter alive. They and their doctors believe that Terri responds to them, tries to interact with her environment, and would improve with therapies which her husband has refused. The Schindlers also claim that Michael Schiavo has abused and exploited Terri. They want him removed as her guardian because he has several conflicts of interest, including the fact that he is engaged to another woman with whom he has fathered two children.

Disability groups have been closely watching Terri's situation for several years. Many see her case as one of thousands in which the rights of a person with a disability to continue living are compromised or ignored by third parties -- such as guardians, judges and health care professionals.

On July 12, a coalition of 18 disability groups filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief supporting Governor Bush in the case.

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


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