Greer Denies Motion Allowing Terri Schiavo to Eat on Her Own

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 14, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Greer Denies Motion Allowing Terri Schiavo to Eat on Her Own

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 14, 2003

Clearwater, FL ( — On Monday, Circuit Court Judge George Greer told Terri Schiavo’s parents that their motion to allow Terri to learn to eat on her own prior to the removal of her feeding tube would not be granted — at least not now.

Greer denied the motion on a legal technicality, saying the family’s attorney had not used the proper legal means to advance the motion and that the issue of allowing Terri to eat on her own would be decided later this week.

Greer is considering whether or not to allow Terri to have rehabilitative care. That’s been a sticking point for the family who say that Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, has denied her such medical help.

The Schindlers have doctors who believe she could be rehabilitated with new and aggressive therapy.

George Felos, the euthanasia crusader who is Michael’s attorney, told Greer that doctors he has consulted with have testified that Terri is capable of swallowing her saliva. However, if given water or pureed food, Felos says Terri will choke on it and the blockage could lead to pneumonia.

The motion called for delaying removal of the feeding tube until the transition has been completed and Terri can eat on her own.

"The court must give her a chance to transition to nutrition by mouth," Anderson said, adding that Terri "has never been given the chance to get better. She’s been treated as if she’s already dead."

Anderson said if Greer withdraws the feeding tube without allowing Terri a chance to eat on her own, he is violating Florida law.

Tom Marzen, a pro-life attorney and expert on euthanasia who has been following the case, tells, "the next question is whether anyone will even try to feed and hydrate Terri by mouth after the tube is removed if she can possibly swallow successfully. If not, then can’t we abandon any pretense that this case involves anything other than fulfilling a death wish?"

Michael was awarded $750,000 in a malpractice lawsuit that was supposed to be used in part on rehab care for Terri. Her parents say only a small amount of the funds has been used this far.

Nancy Valko, a leading pro-life nurse who monitors end-of-life issues, says the Schiavo case should be a warning to the pro-life community that some want to deny rehabilitative care to the disabled or those with incurable diseases.

"The importance of saving Terri cannot be overestimated," Valko explained. "Not only for her but also to brake the movement to get rid of people with severe brain injuries or conditions by withdrawal of basic medical care, futility and other ‘end of life’ policies, inadequate insurance coverage for rehab services and even non-heart-beating organ donation."