Governor Jeb Bush Seeks Full, Fair Hearing to Defend Terri’s Law

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 19, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Governor Jeb Bush Seeks Full, Fair Hearing to Defend Terri’s Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 19, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL ( — Governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday used a number of different tactics in his defense of Terri’s Law from a legal challenge by Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael and his pro-assisted suicide attorneys.

Bush’s attorneys filed four legal documents on Wednesday afternoon in response to a lawsuit by Michael seeking to overturn Terri’s Law and remove her feeding tube for a third time to end her life.

First, Bush attorneys said there should be a jury trial to decide whether or not Terri Schiavo wanted to be kept alive in her current condition. His attorneys also want Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird to be removed from hearing the case.

Bush says Terri’s rights under the Florida state constitution are best served with Terri’s Law in place, than without it.

Michael’s attorneys argue that Terri’s right to privacy is being violated and that Bush’s executive order allowing doctors to reinsert the feeding tube was a violation of the separation of powers because several courts have previously denied keeping the tube in place.

George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who, with help from the ACLU, is representing Michael, said Bush is only seeking more delays and wants to relitigate the decade-long case.

However, Ken Connor, the pro-life attorney who is representing Governor Bush, said courts should first decide whether Terri’s health care wishes were violated by Michael’s denying her appropriate rehabilitative care and medical treatment. Only then can the constitutionality of Terri’s Law be determined.

Connor said that this case is different from another that set Florida case law in favor of allowing a "right" to die.

A previous Florida case involved a woman who had two living wills and there was no familial dispute as to her wishes. Terri had no advance directives discussing medical care and her parents and siblings are at odds with her estranged husband regarding her care.

Though she has a feeding tube that provides her with food and water, Terri is not hooked up to a breathing machine and is not in a persistent vegetative state. Terri’s parents cite several doctors who say Terri could recover with proper rehabilitative care.

Connor, the former president of the Family Research Council and Florida Right to Life, said that decisions in the Terri’s Law suit should not be made with evidence or testimony from previous cases regarding Terri. He said that to not have a full and complete hearing would deny the due process rights of Governor Bush and the state legislature to defend the pro-life law.

Michael Schiavo claims Terri made an offhanded comment saying she preferred not to be kept alive artificially. However, Michael didn’t recall the supposed statement until years after Terri’s collapse.

However, Terri’s best friend Diane Meyer recalls one of the few times Terri got mad at her was when they had just seen a television movie about Karen Ann Quinlan. Quinlan had been in a coma since collapsing six years earlier and was the subject of a bitter court battle over her parents’ decision to take her off a respirator.

Meyer told a cruel joke about Quinlan, and it upset Terri.

"She went down my throat about this joke, that it was inappropriate," Meyer told the Associated Press previously.

She remembers Terri wondering how the doctors and lawyers could possibly know what Quinlan was really feeling or what she would want.

"Where there’s life," Meyer recalls her saying, "there’s hope."

Related web sites:
Terri’s Family –