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Governor Bush Challenges State Supreme Court On Schiavo
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 5, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA--Governor Jeb Bush has asked the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider its September 23 ruling which threw out the law that has kept Terri Schiavo alive for nearly a year.
In a motion for a rehearing filed Monday, Bush said he respects the "role and the judgment" of the state's highest court, but that the ruling could interfere with the ability of the Governor and the Legislature to govern.
Bush also said that the court violated his due-process rights by keeping him from presenting evidence that the lower court based its decision to allow Terri to starve to death on faulty "facts". Specifically, the governor wants the chance to dispute the judgment that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, as some doctors have testified, and that she would not want to be kept alive "by artificial means", as her husband insists.
"The point is that the facts in this case have yet to be determined," Bush's motion said. "To present such disputed matters as 'facts' is improper."
Bush's attorney, Ken Connor, hinted that the Governor may take the case to U.S. Supreme Court if the state's high court rejects it again.
"It ain't over 'til it's over," Connor said.
Under pressure by disability advocates and right-to-life groups, the Legislature passed "Terri's Law" on October 21, 2003, giving Bush specific authority to order Terri's feeding tube replaced just six days after it had been removed under an earlier court order.
Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, immediately sued Bush, accusing him and the Legislature of violating her privacy by interfering with what he claims are Terri's wishes. While Terri did not have a written statement as to her wishes, Mr. Schiavo claims that she told him, before her brain injury, that she would not have wanted to be on life support.
Mr. Schiavo also argued that the law was unconstitutional because it gave the Governor and Legislature too much power over the courts.
The Supreme Court did not address the privacy issue, but ruled that the law did violate the separation of powers and undermined the courts' authority.
Terri was 26 years old in February 1990 when she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Some doctors have testified that she is now in a persistent vegetative state, that she cannot interact with her environment, that she does not feel pain, and that she will not recover.
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, disagree. They have argued that she is alert, laughs and tries to talk to them, and could benefit from therapies that her husband has refused to allow. They argue that Mr. Schiavo should be removed as her guardian because he has conflicts of interest and is engaged to a woman with whom he has fathered two children.
Disability-related groups are watching the case closely because of the affect it could have on millions of people with disabilities who are represented by guardians.
Last week, the Schindlers challenged Mr. Schiavo's guardianship in Pinellas County Circuit Court on the basis that Terri would not want to die by starvation because doing so would go against the Catholic Church.
Earlier this year, Pope John Paul II said that providing food and water to people with severe disabilities is natural and ordinary treatment each person has the right to receive. Withdrawing a feeding tube is "euthanasia by omission" and is morally wrong, the pontiff said.
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
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