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Congress Delays Murder of Terri Schiavo |
By Valerie Schmalz | March 18, 2005 | 1:40 pm EST
Pinellas Circuit Court Chief Judge David
Demers has ordered that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube remain in place past the
1:00 p.m., March 18th deadline. The delay came because U.S. Senate and
House committees in the Congress issued subpoenas for Terri, her husband, Michael
Schiavo, and two doctors and the hospice administrator. They are to appear at
hearings on March 25 and March 28.
"They are not going to [remove the tube]; watch the news honey," said a woman answering
the telephone at the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The AP reports that the temporary delay came from Judge Demers "while fellow Judge George Greer, who
is presiding over the Schiavo case, deals with conflicting legal issues." It is not yet clear what
course of action Greer will take.
Senate committee sent the subpoenas in a last-ditch effort to block the removal
of Terri's feeding tube. The Congressional subpoenas call all as witnesses and also
require that Terri's feeding and hydration not be suspended until they can
investigate the case. Because Terri is named as a witness, Republican leaders
believe she will be protected by federal law protecting federal witnesses
But the outcome remained in doubt until moments
before the deadline. Michael Schiavos attorney George Felos told Reuters
that Congress had no authority to stop the removal of the feeding tube. A
spokesperson for Woodside Hospice, the facility where Terri Schiavo is being
kept, told the Miami Herald this morning she did not know if the company had
received word from the U.S. House.
''The big thing is if the people on the ground here honor the subpoena and not
try to starve her," Randall Terry, a spokesman for Schiavo's parents, Bob
and Mary Schindler, told the Herald.
inquiry should give hope to Terri, her parents and friends and the millions of
people throughout the world who are praying for her safety,'' House Speaker
Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Government Reform chairman Tom
Davis said in a joint statement. ``This fight is not over.''
Michael Schiavos attorney and right-to-die advocate George Felos told
Reuters today: "(House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and (House Speaker) Dennis
Hastert are not members of the Politburo in Stalinist Russia," Felos told Reuters
by telephone. "The state does not own Mrs. Schiavo's body and Congress cannot
simply order her to remain alive contrary to her medical treatment wishes and
Terri Schiavo is at Woodside
Hospice in Pinellas Park,Florida, under police guard. A prayer vigil continued
The House subpoenas are to appear before the House Government Reform
Committees "inquiry into the long-term care of incapacitated or
Meanwhile President George Bush was scheduled to be in
Florida to discuss Social Security. In a statement issued by the White House,
President Bush said, "In instances like this one, where there are serious
questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should
have a presumption in favor of life."
Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago
and was judged by the Florida court now deciding her fate to be in a persistent
vegetative state. Her parents dispute that finding and have lined up a series of
neurologists who support their contention. They have been battling to block her
husband from removing her feeding tube for seven years. It was removed twice
before in 2001, and again in 2003 when emergency legislation known as
Terris Law was approved by the Florida legislature and signed by Gov. Jeb
Bush. Terris Law was later overturned by the courts.
protects a witness "from anyone who ... influences, obstructs, or impedes an
inquiry or investigation by Congress," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.
Felos said Congress has no power to enter an injunction. "The only
subpoena Congress can issue is to appear before a congressional body," he
The issuing of subpoenas follows the passage of two conflicting
bills by the Senate and the House to save Terri Schiavo on Thursday. In Florida,
the state House passed a bill but it was defeated in the state Senate.
"The Senate and the House remain dedicated to saving Terri Schiavos
life," Tennesse Republican Frist said in a statement today, March
18th. "While discussions over possible legislative remedies
continue, the Senate and the House are taking action to keep her alive in the
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Chairman Mike Enzi sent a letter to Schiavo and husband Michael, her legal
guardian, asking them to appear at a March 28 hearing to ``review health-care
policies and practices.''
Federal criminal law protects witnesses called
before official Congressional committee proceedings from anyone who may obstruct
or impede a witness attendance or testimony. More specifically, the
law protects a witness from anyone who -- by threats, force, or by any
threatening letter or communication --influences, obstructs, or impedes an
inquiry or investigation by Congress. Anyone who violates this law is subject to
criminal fines and imprisonment.
that the hospice had been served with the subpoena, according to Schindler family
spokesperson Cheryl Ford. Meanwhile a petition for an emergency stay and a
petition for Habeas Corpus was filed in federal court on Terri Schiavos
behalf. If approved, this would do what the U.S. House legislation would have
mandated, require review of her case in a federal court with her own attorney,
rather than her husbands.
The U.S. House and Senate
are considering whether to delay their Easter recess to take up the issue on
John Paul II on "Life-Sustaining
Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas"
of Terri Schiavo: When Does Dignity End? | By Fr. Michael Black
Over Terri | Valerie Schmalz
DCF's Schiavo Petition Unsealed | The Tampa Tribune (Friday,
March 4, 2005)
Brother Fights For Sister's Life | by Margaret Zagroba | Vice President,
Princeton Pro-Life. Saturday, March 5, 2005.
Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight.
She worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press, and in print
and broadcast media for ten years. She holds a BA in Government from University
of San Francisco and a Master of Science from the School of Foreign Service
at Georgetown University. She is the former director of Birthright of San
Francisco. Valerie and her wonderful husband have four children.
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