Judge Will Rule Soon on Terri’s Law, Likely to Overturn It

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 23, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judge Will Rule Soon on Terri’s Law, Likely to Overturn It

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 23, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — Judge Douglas Baird said that he does not need any new information to be able to rule on the constitutionality of Terri’s Law, the measure passed by the state legislature that allowed Florida Governor Jeb Bush to ask doctors to reinstate the feeding tube that is helping Terri Schiavo stay alive.

If Baird rules the law unconstitutional, Terri’s estranged husband Michael will be able to remove her feeding tube for a third time, possibly causing her death.

Attorneys for Michael, including George Felos, an assisted suicide advocate, have asked Baird to decide the case on summary judgment rather than holding a trial.

On Tuesday, Baird agreed to issue a quick ruling, though he said he will wait until after an appeals court rules on motions made by Bush’s attorneys, including a request to move the case to Tallahassee.

Ken Conner, the pro-life attorney who is Bush’s lead counsel, wanted Baird to hold a trial to determine whether Terri would want to remain alive and receive lifesaving medical treatment and rehabilitative therapy.

"Terri Schiavo’s wishes are very much at issue. Terri Schiavo has demonstrated a resolute will to live," Connor said.

Baird disagreed saying, "No further facts are necessary for the court to rule on the issue of constitutionality."

By ruling on summary judgment, rather than after a full trial, Conner said he is almost certain Baird will strike down the pro-life law. Baird has previously said he thought the law was an unconstitutional violation of Terri’s privacy.

Felos concurred with Baird and said the law was a violation of the separation of powers.

Conner said a quick ruling would deprive the governor and legislature of their opportunity to appear in court. He also said there was nothing wrong with the state legislature’s desire to protect vulnerable citizens who do not have advanced directives.

Conner wanted the opportunity to talk with Michael about Terri’s wishes. Michael claimed years after Terri’s collapse and only after he and Terri’s estate was awarded a $1 million medical malpractice judgment, that he remembered a supposed conversation where Terri indicated she didn’t want extra measures taken to prolong her life.

However, a good friend of Terri’s vividly remembers watching a television program with Terri about a woman who was in a coma for years. Terri was upset when she told a joke about the woman and said there was no way doctors or lawyers could know the woman’s wishes. "Where there is life, there is hope," Terri told her friend.

The money was supposed to be used to take care of Terri, but some of it has been used on Michael’s legal bills and Terri has never received appropriate medical care or rehabilitativ therapy.

Regardless of how Baird rules, the decision will almost likely wind up in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court.

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s family – https://www.terrisfight.org