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Judge will hear abuse claims in Schiavo case
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 03/05/2005 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
A Florida judge will hear arguments next week on whether the state’s social services agency will be allowed to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case with an investigation of alleged abuse by her estranged husband.
Michael Schiavo won a court order in 2000 to have his severely brain-damaged wife’s life-sustaining feeding tube removed, claiming she had expressed a wish not to live in such a condition. The order is to be carried out March 18 at 1 p.m.
But the Department of Children and Families has filed a petition, made public yesterday, that contains 30 new allegations of “abuse, neglect or exploitation.”
The DCF said the allegations came through its anonymous abuse hot line.
Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer will hear the accusations, which include failure to investigate experimental medical procedures, denial of legal counsel, lack of communication and visitation and lack of therapy.
If neglect or abuse can be proved, the state can take over guardianship from Michael Schiavo.
The Schindlers have filed motions to remove their son-in-law as Terri’s guardian, arguing he is her husband in name only and consistently has sought to withhold care and therapy. Michael Schiavo has been living for 10 years with fiance Jodi Centonze, with whom he has two children, and plans to marry her upon Terri’s death.
At a hearing two weeks ago, his attorney, George Felos, said the DCF’s attemp to intervene “reeks of political arm-twisting.”
Yesterday, Nobel prize nominee Dr. William Hammesfahr issued a statement saying he had examined Terri Schiavo and believes her injury, hypoxic encephalopathy, is a type of stroke that he treats every day with success.
“There are many approaches that would help Terri Schiavo,” he said. “I know, because I had the opportunity to personally examine her, her medical records, and her X-rays. It is time to help Terri, instead of just warehousing her. She would have benefited from treatment years ago, but it is not to late to start now.”
Meanwhile, attorneys for Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, have filed a new motion claiming Greer made a reversible error in the 2000 trial that affected his determination of whether she would want to be keep alive in her present condition. The motion says Greer made a “clear mistake” when he discounted the testimony of Diane Meyer, who said that in 1982 Terri Schiavo told her she did not agree with the well-known decision by Karen Ann Quinlan’s parents to take their daughter off life support.
Florida law allows for testimony of oral expressions of end-of-life wishes.
Terri Schiavo is not hooked up to any machines, but she requires a small feeding tube for nourishment and hydration. She collapsed under disputed circumstances Feb. 25, 1990, suffering severe brain damage when her heart stopped momentarily. Michael Schiavo attributes the collapse to an eating disorder, but her parents suspect he tried to strangle their daughter and insist that while mentally handicapped, she recognizes people and responds to stimuli.
The National Right to Life Committee is calling on Congress to enact a bill to be introduced by Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., that would give the Schindler family access to a federal court to argue for the life of their daughter.
Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.
Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.
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