The law allowing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reconnected was ruled unconstitutional today by a circuit court judge.
Terri Schiavo responding to her mother in video clip available
Bush’s office filed an immediate appeal to the decision by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird, which voided a href="/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35197">law passed in October by the Florida Legislature.
The decision could pave the way for Schiavo’s husband, Michael, to ensure removal of the feeding and hydration tube that keeps the brain-disabled woman alive.
Michael Schiavo – who lives with another woman with whom he has had two children – insists his wife told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially in such a condition. Her parents strongly doubt that and contend they have evidence she could improve with therapy.
Attorneys representing Michael Schiavo have argued intervention by Florida lawmakers violated her right to privacy as well as the separation-of-powers principle established in the Florida Constitution.
Bush’s attorney, Kenneth Connor, dismisses the separation-of-powers argument, contending Florida courts have ruled lawmakers can act to affect prior court decisions.
Connor maintains Terri Schiavo’s rights under the Florida Constitution actually are preserved, not violated, under “Terri’s Law,” which provides extra protection for disabled people who have nothing in writing and whose family members are divided on treatment.
WorldNetDaily has reported Terri Schiavo mysteriously collapsed in February 1990 at the age of 26. Oxygen was cut off to her brain for several minutes, leaving the woman severely brain damaged. She breathes and maintains a heartbeat and blood pressure on her own. Although her vision is impaired, she can see, and video shown in court apparently demonstrates she can move her limbs on command, vocalize and respond to her mother. But she is reliant on a feeding tube for nourishment.
Terri’s parents and siblings, the Schindlers, have been locked in a 10-year battle with Michael Schiavo over her life.
After today’s ruling, Robert Schindler, Sr., Terri’s father, said this in a press statement:
“These Pinellas County judges have displayed an utterly cavalier attitude
and a complete disregard for the rule of law. They are aiding and abetting
Michael Schiavo in his continuing crimes against Terri and this current
order is nothing more than an unjust killing of a young woman who has
demonstrated time and again that she very much wants to live.”
In 2002, Circuit Court Judge George Greer ruled Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS – a necessary determination, according to Florida law, for the removal of a feeding tube, which amounts to death by starvation and dehydration.
Per Greer’s order, Terri’s feeding tube was removed Oct. 15. She endured six days before state lawmakers and Bush intervened.
The Schindlers maintain Terri is responsive, not PVS and has a strong will to live. More than a dozen doctors have signed affidavits that Terri is not PVS and could benefit from rehabilitative therapy denied her over the past decade, according to medical records provided to the Schindlers, but Greer refused to admit their testimony in the case.
Before today’s ruling, Connor had predicted Baird would rule in favor of Michael Schiavo, based on comments the judge made prior to hearing the case, in which he called the law “presumptively unconstitutional.”
Connor sought the removal of Baird from the case, arguing his statements reflected bias. But the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Dec. 10 Baird’s comments were not improper and were insufficient evidence of judicial prejudice.
Lawyers on both sides had expected Baird’s ruling to be another volley in a legal battle likely to end up before the Florida Supreme Court.