The Supreme Court refused today to reinstate “Terri’s Law,” a Florida measure passed to keep a brain-damaged woman alive after her husband obtained a court order to remove her feeding tube.
Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband, Michael Schiavo — who is living with another woman with whom he has two children — contends his wife wouldn’t want to be kept alive under such conditions. But Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler deny that, charging in their filing that their son-in-law is seeking to inherit her estate and be free to marry his girlfriend.
The case likely will return to Judge George Greer of Pinellas County Circuit Court, who previously ordered the feeding tube removed.
The Supreme Court made no comment in its rejection of Gov. Jeb Bush’s appeal, which argued Florida had the authority to intervene and order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted.
The 2003 law came into effect six days after Michael Schiavo had the feeding tube removed.
“It’s judicial homicide. They want to murder her,” said Robert Schindler today, according to the Associated Press. “I have no idea what the next step will be. We’re going to fight for her as much as we can fight for her. She deserves a chance.”
In a 27-page brief filed early last month, attorneys for Bush asked the nation’s nine top justices to review and eventually reverse the Florida Supreme Court’s Sept. 23 ruling that struck down “Terri’s Law” as unconstitutional, arguing that the lower courts had denied the governor’s and Schiavo’s federally protected rights to due process and equal protection.
Bush’s legal team asserts Terri Schiavo was denied her federally protected constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law. They also contend Bush, who used his official powers to intervene and was personally sued for doing so, was denied an opportunity to defend his actions in court.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed a brief on behalf of the Schindlers, said the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case has severely limited Terri Schiavo’s legal options.
The Florida courts, said ACLJ Cheif Counsel Jay Sekulow, handed down a “death sentence” by declaring “Terri’s Law” unconstitutional.
“We believe the Florida governor and legislature acted constitutionally and appropriately in passing ‘Terri’s Law’ — a life-saving legislation that is at the center of the legal dispute,” he said. “While there are still legal options available in Florida, the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case makes it more difficult for those legal options to prevail.”
The ACLJ brief asserted Terri Schiavo’s condition can be treated and that she is aware of her surroundings and does not want to die — especially by starvation and dehydration.
In response to today’s action, the Christian Defense Coalition and the National Clergy Council issued a national call to “the faith community and people of good will” to travel to Florida to pray and plead for Terri Schiavo’s life.
“A society has sunk to it lowest when it abandons the sick and helpless,” Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. “Should this prove the end of the line for Terri and her loving family, this will be a deep shame that our country will carry for a terribly long time.”
As WND has reported, Terri Schiavo suffered major brain injury in 1990 when she collapsed under questionable circumstances in the St. Petersburg apartment where she lived with her husband. For reasons never satisfactorily explained, oxygen to her brain was cut off for several minutes, leaving her severely disabled, unable to talk and dependent on a feeding tube for food and hydration at the age of 26.
Whether she still requires a feeding tube is one of many unanswered questions. Michael Schiavo refuses to allow a “swallowing test” to determine if she could be spoon fed.
During the trial in Jan. 2000, Michael Schiavo persuaded probate Judge George Greer that Terri is in a “persistent vegetative state,” or PVS, one of several physical conditions which in Florida law allows a feeding tube to be removed from a non-terminally ill person who has not left a written directive.
Terri Schiavo’s parents and her siblings dispute her husbands contentions. They say Terri is alert, has a strong will to live, and could be significantly rehabilitated with agressive therapy. More than a dozen physicians, therapists and speech pathologists have stepped forward to state agreement with the parents.
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.