Terri Schiavo's Life Spared At Least One More Day
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 22, 2005
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA--Less than an hour after a Florida appeals court gave the green light for Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to be pulled Tuesday afternoon, a local judge issued a stay blocking the removal for at least one more day.
Michael Schiavo had planned to have his wife's tube removed as quickly as possible, but was stopped by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer. Greer's order came just 45 minutes after the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a one-page order ending the stay that since October had kept the tube in place.
David C. Gibbs III, an attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler, asked Greer to consider his argument that their daughter's Constitutional rights to due process have been violated, that her condition should be reassessed with new technology, and that her husband should be removed as her legal guardian.
Greer granted the stay to allow arguments on Wednesday. It was set to expire at 5 p.m.
Greer rejected those same arguments on February 11, thereby clearing the way for the appellate court to drop its stay.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court have refused to hear more arguments in the case.
According to news reports, the Schindlers were at Terri's bedside at the Clearwater hospice when news came of Greer's order Tuesday.
Disability rights and right-to-life advocates have been holding 24-hour vigils near the hospice and protests at Michael Schiavo's home. Demonstrations were also organized for the White House in Washington, DC, and the Florida capital building in Tallahassee.
"The life-and-death issues surrounding Terri Schiavo are first and foremost disability rights issues, issues which ultimately affect millions of Americans, old and young," Josie Byzek of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet told a Pennsylvania reporter last week.
"In my opinion there is no way most non-disabled people can even begin to muse on the quality of life of a disabled person. Societal prejudices are still just too strong," Byzek said.
Terri was 26 when she collapsed and stopped breathing on February 26, 1990, and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then, she has been breathing on her own, but she receives her food and water through a tube installed through the wall of her stomach.
Her husband and several of his doctors convinced the court that she is in a "persistent vegetative state", that she is not aware of her surroundings, and that she will not recover. Michael Schiavo also convinced the court that Terri told him she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means". He was first given permission to have her feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration in 1998.
Terri's parents have blocked Mr. Schiavo's attempts to allow their daughter to die. They have argued that she is alert, that she interacts with them, and would recover with rehabilitation that her husband has refused to permit. They claim that he has a conflict of interest as Terri's guardian, in part because he wants to marry a woman with whom he has fathered two children.
When Terri's feeding tube was pulled in October 2003, advocates from across the country flooded the offices of Governor Jeb Bush and Florida lawmakers with tens of thousands of messages urging them to save her. Bush then pushed a law through the Legislature, which gave him permission to have her feeding tube reinserted within six days. That law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court last fall.
Bush has indicated that he would do what he can to save Terri's life, but admitted that his options are limited.
"Parents, activists renew efforts to keep brain-damaged woman alive" (Orlando Sentinel)
"Supporters mobilize to save Schiavo" (Tallahassee Democrat)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation