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Republicans, Family Fight for Terri's Life; Supreme Court Denies Committee's Request |
By Valerie Schmalz | March 19, 2005 | Updated 8:15 EST
The U.S. House and Senate will come into a special session on Sunday with the
intent of passing a bill designed to force Terri Schiavos case into federal
district court and require the re-insertion of her feeding tube.
The compromise bill is written to only affect the case of the 41-year-old
brain damaged Florida woman. President George W. Bush said he would sign the bill
immediately, Republican leaders said.
"The United States Congress has been working on non stop for the past
three days to do its part to uphold human dignity and affirm the Culture of
Life," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said during a brief special Senate
The session was necessary to adjourn, a housekeeping measure required to allow
both houses of Congress to convene Sunday. The House will convene at 1 p.m. and
the Senate at 2 p.m. If that fails, the bill would be placed on the House
suspension agenda at 12:01 a.m. Monday and be put up for voice vote at 8 a.m. on
"It has been more than 24 hours since Terri Schiavos feeding tube
was removed but the legislation we will consider will give her another
chance," Frist said. "It allows Terris case to be heard in
Questioned about the constitutionality of Congressional intervention, House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay said at a press conference Saturday, "Because the
United States Constitution protects the life of human beings from being taken by
other human beings needlessly."
Frist and DeLay announced they believe they have reached a compromise on
legislation that will only affect Terri Schiavo rather than the broader
legislation originally passed by the House. That bill would have affected the law
on nutrition and hydration of all people judged to be in a persistent vegetative
Appearing on CNNs "Larry King Live" Friday night, Michael Schiavo
said he was angry that the "government has just trampled over my personal
Terri Schiavos feeding tube was removed at about 2 p.m. Friday, March
18, at the order of Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Greer. Greer has
decided the facts of the case for the past 11 years, including a medical opinion
presented by a right-to-die doctor selected by Terris husband Michael
Schiavo. Moving the case to a federal district court allows more facts to
be considered by a different judge in a different venue.
Her family has fought for seven years to stop the starvation and dehydration
death her husband Michael seeks. Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago and the loss of
oxygen caused serious brain damage.
Greer has refused to consider any other medical opinions presented by the
Schindlers or to authorize further tests, and has rejected most claims by
Terris parents Bob and Mary Schindler, including their request for
guardianship. Michael Schiavo halted all therapy in 1993 after winning a more
than $1 million malpractice damage award, and lives with another woman with whom
he has two children.
Greer has also denied the Schinders request to have their
daughters body for burial rather than immediate cremation as her legal
guardian Michael Schiavo has ordered.
"I think his abusive neglect of
his position as a guardian is outrageous," DeLay said of Michael Schiavo
today. "And partnered with this judge that has allowed him to treat Terri
like this for the last 11 years is outrageous and my question is, what kind of
man is he?"
In a sign the bills passage is not a slam dunk, even though Minnesota
Democratic Rep. James Oberstar also appeared at the press conference Saturday,
DeLay said, "The Democratic leadership in the House has been very
cooperative. There are some members that have grave concerns about what we
are doing and we are trying to work it out."
"Most people need
to understand. She will not die of starvation. She will die of dehydration,"
a somber DeLay said, probably of an infection brought on by the deydration.
Asked by a reporter if this bill was unwarranted interference in the matters
of the state and the state courts as Terris husband Michael Schiavo and
others claim, De Lay said:
"I dont have a whole lot of
respect for a man that has treated this woman in this way. He has refused to
allow her to have therapy. He has refused to allow her to have a MRI. For years,
for five years, shes been kept in a hospice and every time they have asked
just to take her outside, which they can do, he has refused. Shes not been
outside for I think the last three years."
Bobby Schindler, Terris brother, on Saturday said he believes bloggers
may be the familys best hope of saving Terri, and called on them to
continue putting the pressure on legislators in Tallahasee, Fl. and Washington,
The Associated Press reported that Michael Schiavo was at his
wifes side shortly after the tube was removed. Terri Schiavos
parents were escorted from her room before the tube was removed,
On Saturday, Bobby Schindler Jr. told BlogsforTerri.com to "please have the
blogs keep up the pressure all weekend, my sisters life depends on them
getting the word out for people to keep calling their senators and
The blog, which has been a consistent source of information from those close
to the family, reported Saturday. "The family feels that the blogs are perhaps
Terris best chance of getting the volume of calls needed to convince the
right people to make the right decision."
The Protection of Incapacitated Persons Act of 2005 was passed late Wednesday
night by the House of Representatives but ran into problems in the Senate. The
final bill passed by the Senate said "may" instead of "shall" move the case
to federal court when all legal remedies are exhausted at the state level,
Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said on the Sean Hannity radio show.
Sensenbrennder said that left room for a federal judge not to hear the case and
that was why the House did not pass the Senate legislation.
Meanwhile, the Florida Catholic Conference sent out a newsletter late Friday,
March 18th, asking all to call and write the Florida Senate and House urging it
to approve one or both of two pieces of legislation stalled in the state
The order to remove the tube came despite a last minute reprieve offered by
the chief judge in the circuit court who delayed the removal while Greer
considered the case. Congress Friday ordered that subpoenas be served on Terri
Schiavo, her husband Michael, the hospice administrator and two doctors. They are
ordered to appear at hearings on March 25 and March 28. The legislation to be
considered Sunday is unrelated to the subpoenas.
A U.S. Senate committee sent the subpoenas in a last-ditch effort to block the
removal of Terri's feeding tube. Because Terri is named as a witness, Republican
leaders believed she would be protected by federal law protecting witnesses, but
Greer ruled that the protection did not apply. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a
request for an emergency stay while the lower courts considered the subpoenas
In a statement issued by the White House, President George W. 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
This is the third time Terri Schiavos tube has been removed. 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.
Terri's Murder Begins |
By Valerie Schmalz. March 18, 2005.
Congress Delays Murder of Terri Schiavo |
By Valerie Schmalz. March 18, 2005.
Vatican, Gibson Join Fight for Terri's Life |
Valerie Schmalz. March 15, 2005.
The Vatican Steps In: Cardinal Martino's Statement on
Terri Schiavo | Valerie Schmalz. March 8, 2005.
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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