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Governor Bush Drops Push For New Feeding Tube Law
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2006

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA--Governor Jeb Bush has dropped his attempt to change a law that would have required surgically implanted feeding tubes to remain in some patients unless if they had requested their removal in writing, or had authorized someone else to make that decision for them.

The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that Bush could not find a legislative sponsor for the measure, more than a year after the high-profile death of Terri Schiavo. Mrs. Schiavo died of dehydration on March 31, 2005, thirteen days after the tube providing her food and water was removed through a court order sought by her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo.

Terri had not left a living will or advanced directive when she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen at age 26 and she was left in what some doctors considered a "persistent vegetative state". Soon after the incident, a feeding tube was installed through the wall of her stomach after doctors worried she might choke on food and water.

Seven years later, Mr. Schiavo petitioned the court to have the feeding tube withdrawn, insisting that his wife had told him, during casual conversations prior to her collapse, that she would not want to live on life support or by mechanical means.

Bush intervened in the case in August 2003, but only after his office was flooded with tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right-to-life groups urging him to get involved on behalf of Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who wanted her to be kept alive and to receive swallowing therapies.

Eventually, the case wound its way to through Florida courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, which all backed Mr. Schiavo.

The Orlando Sentinel noted that the measure the governor had drafted would have allowed patients in terminal or "end stage" conditions, or who are considered to be in a persistent vegetative state, to have a feeding tube withdrawn only if they specified that preference in a living will, or if they authorized a surrogate to make that decision for them.

The measure would have drawn a distinction between the implanting of feeding tubes, which are used by thousands of people with disabilities and medical conditions, and life-prolonging medical interventions, such as respirators.

"Governor abandons feeding-tube efforts" (Orlando Sentinel)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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