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Florida Appeals Court Rejects Schindlers' Appeal Over Terri Schiavo's Rights
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 3, 2005

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday refused to consider arguments from Terri Schiavo's parents over their belief that allowing her to starve to death would violate her religious convictions.

The appellate court did not offer a written opinion to explain the refusal.

George Felos, the attorney representing Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, told reporters that once the court issues its formal decision within 15 days, Mr. Schiavo could order his wife's feeding tube removed.

An attorney for Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, told LifeNews they will ask the appeals court to rehear the case. David Gibbs III said the court's decision not to hold hearings was disappointing. Because the appeals court did not issue a written opinion, the decision cannot be appealed to the state Supreme Court, LifeNews explained.

The Schindlers asked for the new trial to argue that, even if Terri had said she did not want to be kept alive "by artificial means" as her husband suggests, as a devout Catholic she would have changed her mind last year in response to a pronouncement by Pope John Paul II. The pope said in March that removing food and hydration from people with disabilities similar to Terri's amounts to a form of "euthanasia by omission" and is immoral and unethical.

Terri collapsed from a heart attack in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. She breathes on her own and regulates her own blood pressure. But because she does not swallow, she receives food and water through a tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

Terri, who was 26 at the time of her injury left no written directives. Her husband has insisted for several years that his wife told him before her collapse that she would not want to be on life support. In February 2000, Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge Greer ruled that Mr. Schiavo could have his wife's feeding tube removed. Greer agreed with Schiavo and several doctors that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state" -- that her brain is damaged the point where she cannot interact with her environment, does not feel pain, and will not recover.

Terri's parents have fought Mr. Schiavo through the courts for the past 11 years for their daughter to receive rehabilitative therapies, including speech and swallowing therapies, and to keep her alive. They argue that Terri responds to them, smiles, and has even tried to stand up.

In late October 2004, Judge Greer said that nothing had changed since his 2000 decision. He noted that, Terri had not been a consistent observer of Catholic Mass and did not have a regular religious advisor. Greer did issue a stay, however, allowing Terri to continue receiving food and water through the tube until her parents' appeals have been exhausted.

The Schindlers have tried to get Mr. Schiavo removed as Terri's legal guardian, pointing to the fact that he spent much of a fund intended for her care and rehabilitation on his fight to have her die, and that for the last eight years he has been engaged to another woman with whom he has fathered two children.

In October of 2003, when Terri's feeding tube was removed under Greer's court order, disability rights advocates and right-to-die groups flooded the offices of Governor Jeb Bush and state lawmakers with messages asking for them to intervene and save Terri's life. Bush's office quickly wrote "Terri's Law" and pushed it through the Legislature in near-record time, leading to the reinsertion of Terri's feeding tube just six days after it had been removed.

The Florida Supreme Court later threw out the law, ruling that the governor and the Legislature overstepped their constitutional bounds in passing and implementing it.

Attorneys for Gov. Bush asked the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1 to decide whether the Florida Supreme Court violated Terri Schiavo's federal rights when it overturned the law that had kept her alive for over a year.

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