Schindlers Dealt Several Blows In Efforts To Keep Terri Schiavo
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 23, 2005
PINELLAS PARK, FLORIDA--The parents of Terri Schiavo ran into more roadblocks Wednesday in their efforts to keep their daughter alive.
Early Wednesday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected the emergency request by Bob and Mary Schindler to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted. The 10-2 vote upheld a 2-1 decision by a three-member appeals panel from earlier in the day saying that the Schindlers "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" that their daughter's feeding tube should be reinserted.
The Schindlers immediately filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to consider their claims that Terri has been denied her due process and religious rights under the U.S. Constitution. They also argued that Congress wanted Terri's feeding tube to be reinstalled, at least for the time being, when it passed a law early Monday to give her parents the right to take her case to federal court for a full review.
The Supreme Court has refused to consider four other appeals filed by Terri's parents or others on their behalf in recent months.
Meanwhile in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Judge George W. Greer issued an emergency order barring the Florida Department of Children and Families from taking any action to reinsert the feeding tube that was taken out under his order last Friday. The agency and Governor Jeb Bush had cited new allegations of neglect and argued that they have statutory authority to take Terri into protective custody, if needed.
The governor also asked for Terri's brain to be reexamined because a neurologist working for the state had suggested that Terri is not in a "persistent vegetative state", but is in a "minimally conscious state".
Also, the House Government Reform Committee cancelled an investigative hearing it had set for this Friday. The panel had issued subpoenas to both Terri and her husband, Michael, in an attempt to get her feeding tube reinserted.
President George W. Bush said that there were no more options left for him or Congress to intervene.
"We felt like the actions taken with Congress was the best course of action," he said Wednesday.
Dozens of protesters have been demonstrating their support for the Schindlers outside the hospice in Pinellas Park where Terri is staying. A 10-year-old boy, two teenagers and seven adults were handcuffed and taken away by police when they tried to take water into the facility.
Terri was 26 years old when she had a heart attack in February 1990, reportedly from a chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. Her brain was damaged after she was without oxygen for several minutes. The extent of her brain injury has been debated by medical experts and members of Terri's family. Several doctors and Terri's husband, Michael, convinced Florida courts that she is in a "persistent vegetative state", that she does not think or feel, and can never recover.
Other medical experts and Terri's parents claim that she is aware, that she responds to them, and has even tried to talk to them. They believe that Terri could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has refused to allow.
Mr. Schiavo also convinced the courts that Terri told him before the collapse that she would not want to be on life support. He first petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube removed in 1998. It was removed last Friday, for the third time in four years. The last time the feeding tube was withdrawn, in October 2001, it was reinserted after six days, under a hastily written law passed by the Florida legislature. "Terri's Law" was later found to be unconstitutional.
The Schindlers have challenged several rulings, in part on the belief that Terri, a Roman Catholic, would not have wanted to die by dehydration and starvation.
Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, who heads up the Pontifical Academy for Life in the Vatican, hoped the court rulings in Terri's case would not be repeated elsewhere.
"It's not a good death, it's a death provoked by a cruel act," Sgreccia said. "It's not a medical act."
More than two dozen disability groups have supported the Schindlers in their efforts to keep Terri alive. They have also urged a national debate over the rights of people represented by guardians who may not have their best interests in mind.
"I hope that I will not outlive my usefulness or my capacity (at least occasionally) to amuse the people around me," wrote disability rights attorney Harriet McBryde Johnson in a piece for Slate.com.
"But if it happens otherwise, I hope whoever is appointed to speak for me will be subject to legal constraints. Even if my guardian thinks I'd be better off dead -- even if I think so myself -- I hope to live and die in a world that recognizes that killing, even of people with the most severe disabilities, is a matter of more than private concern."
"This isn't about Terri Schiavo anymore," wrote Mary Johnson, editor of the Ragged Edge Magazine.
"We may think it's about political posturing -- and it is that, for sure. But it's about those of us who have scary, messy disabilities, and the fears of the rest of us."
Links to related stories on the "Below
the Fold" Page:
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)