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Jeb Bush could save Terri's life ... if he wanted to

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for the execution of Terri Schiavo, beginning today. She is the brain-damaged woman whose husband has been trying to starve and dehydrate her to death for years.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should have responded, “You better believe I’m not going to allow an innocent woman to be executed in the most cruel way imaginable in my state! We wouldn’t do that to a dog, and I’m not about to let it happen to Terri Schiavo! No sir, not on my watch!”

Instead, we got: “I will do whatever I can do within the powers that have been granted to me by law and by statute. I will do whatever I can. I’m not going to do more than that,” and “I really don’t know what options we have available, but I will take whatever options I think there are.”

Perhaps I can help. Florida’s state constitution says:

All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness … No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.

The fact that a circuit judge continues to ignore Florida statutes does not change the state constitution. Jeb Bush took an oath to uphold that constitution and yet – despite receiving 120,000 e-mails begging him to save her – he let Terri Schiavo starve (and dehydrate) for six days back in October 2003 until the Florida Legislature passed a law that gave him political cover.

Now that the courts have struck down “Terri’s Law,” don’t be surprised if Jeb behaves as if the constitution he swore to uphold is still not relevant to Terri Schiavo. Don’t be surprised if he allows her husband to slowly starve and dehydrate her to death.

As you know by now if you’ve seen the videos, Terri tries to communicate and is fully aware of what is going on around her. There is also medical evidence to suggest that a criminal investigation should be launched to determine who and what may have caused her current disabled state back in 1990.

Consider Bush’s track record. On the second day of Terri’s starvation (Oct. 16, 2003), Jeb said his legal staff could find no statutory justification to intervene in the court decision that approved Terri’s death. Richard Thompson (chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center) shot back:

Nobody is asking the governor to intervene in the civil case. We are asking him to initiate an independent criminal investigation based on a list of facts that suggest criminal wrongdoing. We have outlined for the governor some of these facts, and confirmed his constitutional authority to act.

The fact that he has chosen to confuse the public by referring to the civil case, completely ignoring the request that we presented, reveals a lack of moral courage and political will. We expect the governor to do the right thing, and so far, he has refused to do so.

In the ensuing 16 months, Jeb has steadfastly refused to order the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to do an investigation. Is he more concerned about how he is perceived by the editorial boards of Florida’s big daily papers (most of whom want Terri dead) than with saving an innocent woman’s life?

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family recently renewed his call “for the preservation of the life of Terri Schiavo.” If we really want that to happen, we need to put the heat on Jeb. E-mail him at [email protected].

Doc Washburn is a radio talk-show host in Panama City, Fla.