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Schindlers Take New Guardianship Challenge To Judge Greer
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 30, 2004
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA--The parents of Terri Schiavo are again challenging her husband's guardianship, this time on the basis that, as a Roman Catholic, she would not have chosen to starve to death because doing so would go against the Church.
Attorney David Gibbs told Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer in a hearing Thursday that Terri, whose husband claims she would not have chosen to live "by artificial means", would now consider the removal of her feeding tube a sin.
Terri, 40, experienced a brain injury in 1990 when she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes. Some doctors have testified that, even though she regulates her bodily functions on her own, she is in a "persistent vegetative state" in which she is not aware of her surroundings and from which she cannot recover.
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler believe that she is aware and alert and might be able to swallow and talk if she is provided therapies which her husband has refused to allow. They have fought Michael Schiavo's attempts to remove the feeding tube that is installed in his wife's stomach.
In a press statement from their website earlier this week, the Schindlers referred to Pope John Paul II's pronouncement in March of this year that providing food and water to people with severe disabilities is natural and ordinary care that every person has the right to receive. Withdrawing a feeding tube is "euthanasia by omission" and is morally wrong, the pontiff said.
The Schindlers assert that this constitutes a "substantial change in circumstances" surrounding Terri's case. They claim that withdrawing her feeding tube now would violate her right to religious belief and expression guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Judge Greer has repeatedly sided with Mr. Schiavo in past legal challenges, including issuing the initial court order allowing the removal of Terri's feeding tube last October 16. Greer said he would decide in the next few weeks whether there would be a hearing on the Schindlers' claims.
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court overturned "Terri's Law", a measure passed by the Legislature giving Governor Jeb Bush the authority to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted on October 21, just six days after it had been removed under Greer's earlier court order. The judges said the Legislature violated the Florida Constitution's separation of powers by giving the governor undo authority over the court system.
Bush's attorneys have until this coming Monday to decide whether to ask the high court to review the case again. They have not ruled out asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
This past Monday night, the Schindlers and Gibbs brought their arguments to a national audience, appearing for one hour on CNN's Larry King Live.
"Terri is not in the condition that they portray her," Mary Schindler told Larry King. "Terri is a -- she's a happy, healthy -- I mean, she's healthy. She's brain damaged, but she's healthy."
Referring to people with disabilities, Gibbs told King: "They're very terrified . . . And they're very concerned, because if the law turns to where those that can't contribute or those that carry disabilities are put in some jeopardy . . . if somebody else were to step in and say, you know what, that boy, because he can't speak, is a life not worth having, we disagree with that."
Gibbs, who has been helping support the Schindlers' battle for the last three years, became their primary legal counsel Tuesday after the family's long-time attorney Pat Anderson chose to step down.
According to the Associated Press, Anderson said her decision had nothing to do with any dispute with the Schindler family.
"I am reclaiming my life," Anderson said Wednesday. "It's just time to leave. I've done my part shoving that rock up the hill. Maybe I'll be able to finally sleep through the night without waking up at 3 a.m. remembering some detail."
"Transcript: Interview With Mary, Robert Schindler" (Larry King Live - CNN)
"Pinellas judge considers hearing on Terri Schiavo's faith" (Associated Press via Miami Herald)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
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