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Efforts Continue To Spare Terri Schiavo's Life;
Businessman Offers Michael Schiavo $1 Million To Give Up Guardianship

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 10, 2005

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Efforts to keep Terri Schiavo alive have come from several different fronts this week as the clock ticks down to March 18, the day her feeding tube is scheduled to be removed.

On Wednesday, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer rejected two separate motions by Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. One had requested that new magnetic resonance imaging technology be used to measure Terri's brain activity. Greer said the court had already determined that she is in a "persistent vegetative state".

The other motion had asked that the court order calling for the removal of Terri's feeding tube be tossed out because Greer had mistakenly disregarded the testimony of a witness during the trial in which Greer decided Terri did not want to be kept alive "by artificial means".

On Thursday, Greer rejected a request by the Florida Department of Children and Families for a 60-day stay so it can investigate 30 allegations of abuse and neglect of Terri by her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo. DCF said it wanted to investigate claims that Mr. Schiavo refused to allow Terri to have some medical treatment and therapies, that he isolated her in her room with the blinds closed, failed to fix her broken wheelchair and failed to file guardianship plans in the timelines required by state law.

Greer said that those and other allegations had been investigated before and that no evidence of abuse or neglect had been found. Greer added that the agency's efforts were inappropriate and appeared to be motivated get around his final judgment "in violation of the separation of powers doctrine."

A DCF spokesman said later Thursday that the agency was looking at its legal options. One option mentioned by the Schindlers' attorney was the possibility of DCF taking Terri into protective custody to keep the feeding tube in place.

"I don't know how DCF can't be involved," said Governor Jeb Bush. "There's a law that says if the hot line is called and there's a warranted need for an investigation that there ought be an investigation."

In Tallahassee, a Florida House committee passed HB 701, the "Starvation and Dehydration of Incompetent Persons Prevention Act" on Wednesday. The measure would automatically require doctors to provide food and water to "incapacitated patients" who did not leave an advance directive -- except in certain specific circumstances. The bill needs approval from two more committees before going to the full House for a vote.

The measure is expected to face a tougher battle in the Florida Senate. As of Thursday, it had not even been scheduled for a hearing in the week leading up to the scheduled removal of Terri's feeding tube.

If the measure does pass, it would cover people currently in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and hospices -- including Terri Schiavo.

Also on Thursday, San Diego businessman Robert Herring offered to pay Michael Schiavo $1 million to transfer guardianship of Terri to her parents, reported.

"After viewing video of Terri on television, I came to the belief that there was hope for her," Herring said in a statement. "As events have proceeded in the legal battle, it became clear to me that if something was not done for Terri, that all hope for her would be lost."

Earlier in the week, U.S. Representative Dave Weldon and U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, both Republicans from Florida, introduced the "Disabled Persons Lifesaving Habeas Corpus Review Act" into Congress. The measure would allow people similar to Terri who are considered "incapacitated" -- who did not have an advance directive -- to be represented by an attorney in federal court. If the legislation is passed before March 18, Terri's parents could use it to challenge the removal of her feeding tube.

Nine disability rights groups signed on to a statement in support of the measure.

Terri's brain was damaged on February 25, 1990 after she collapsed and did not breathe for several minutes. Mr. Schiavo and several doctors convinced the court that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state", that much of her brain does not function, and that she cannot recover. While she left nothing in writing, Mr. Schiavo testified that Terri told him before her injury that she would not want to live by artificial means.

Terri's parents have presented their own evidence that Terri laughs with them, tries to talk, and has even tried to stand up. They argue that she would recover some functioning if provided with rehabilitative therapies, perhaps even learning to swallow so she can be safely taken off the feeding tube. They claim that Mr. Schiavo has failed as her guardian because he has denied those therapies -- despite promises he made to provide rehabilitation before being given a $700,000 settlement for her care more than a decade ago. They also say that he has a conflict of interest because he has been engaged for years to a woman with whom he has fathered two children.

When Terri's feeding tube was last removed in October 2003, disability rights advocates and right-to-life groups flooded the offices of Florida lawmakers and Governor Bush with tens of thousands of messages demanding something be done to spare her life. Bush championed "Terri's Law" through the Legislature in near-record time, then ordered her feeding tube to be reinserted just six days after it had been taken out.

The Florida Supreme Court later declared the law unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Links to more coverage on today's "Below The Fold" page:
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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