Terry Schiavo Case Revisited
A Florida court has reopened the tragic and bizarre case of Terry Schiavo.
A judge in a contentious right-to-die battle has refused to reconsider his ruling allowing a man to remove the feeding tube keeping his brain-damaged wife alive. Circuit Court Judge George Greer rejected arguments by Terri Schiavo’s parents that their daughter’s due process rights were violated because she never had her own attorney. Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have waged a long fight in several courts to prevent their daughter’s husband, Michael, from removing the feeding tube.
Friday’s decision could pave the way for the tube to be removed in the coming weeks. A stay preventing the removal is to be lifted February 22, according to Michael Schiavo’s lawyer.
Andrew Somers provides a concise background to the story:
Terry Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 following a heart attack. The brain damage left her unable to care for herself so for the last 13 years sheÃ¢€™s had a feeding tube in her mouth for nutrients and fluids. Terry was awarded a substantial malpractice settlement for the improperly diagnosed potassium deficiency that led to the heart attack and collapse which damaged her brain. The settlement was for continuation of her care and rehabilitation, among other things. Many forms of rehabilitation were attempted in the first years of Terry’s condition, but she did not respond or recover. It is reported that nearly all of the settlement has now been spent on rehabilitation attempts, and continuing care.
Terry is now in a hospice. Several doctors, including those appointed by the courts, have pronounced her to be in a “persistent vegetative state”. However Terry parents have hired doctors that claim that Terry has a consciousness. Terry is unable to eat or swallow, and is being kept alive by means of a feeding tube. Her husband, Michael Schiavo has sought for years to remove the feeding tube and allow Terry Ã¢€œdie naturallyÃ¢€. In other words to starve to death.
The issue has made itÃ¢€™s way through the Florida courts, and in June of 2003, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that would allow Michael to have the feeding tube removed from Terry. On October 20, 2003 the Florida Legislature passed bill 35E, which empowered Governor Jeb Bush to issue executive order 03-201, which he did the following day. His executive order required that doctors replace the feeding tube and continue to provide medical attention as needed.
The court ruling obviates the order. A story in the Chicago Tribune explains that this case is hardly over, though:
Although Friday’s decision closes another door on Bob and Mary Schindler, it will not end their efforts to keep their daughter alive in a right-to-die case that has pitted them against their son-in-law for seven years. An attorney for the Schindlers said they would appeal the latest order and also ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review another issue. And they plan to ask Circuit Judge George Greer to bar Michael Schiavo from removing his wife’s feeding tube while they continue their legal fight.
All that can be said for the “mercy” killing advocated by Michael Schiavo and Attorney George Felos is that it is mercy sought not for the patients but for those who must bear responsibility for them. This is a degradation for life with many parallel’s in human history, not the least of which being the Holocost of the Jews.
While the issue of withdrawing life support is a messy one, I have a rough time getting too upset with the husband, who I consider the real victim in this case. His wife died fifteen years ago but, because of advancements in medical technology and the stubborn resistance of his in-laws to facing the truth, he’s being cast as the villain for simply wanting to pull the plug and get on with his life. He shouldn’t have to divorce a woman who died fifteen years ago in order to do that.
Why the Schindlers have any legal standing in this case is beyond me. Terri was an adult who was legally married. Absent a living will or other document whereby she was able to establish her desires before she entered a vegetative state, her husband is the one who has to make these crucial determinations. Certainly, he is in a better position to know what she would have wanted than the Florida legislature or Jeb Bush.