Florida Legislative Committee Hears Pro-Life Terri Schiavo-Related Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Legislative Committee Hears Pro-Life Terri Schiavo-Related Bill

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 4, 2004

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Under pro-life legislation considering by a Florida legislative panel, people in a comatose state or incapacitated by injuries, such as Terri Schiavo, would be allowed to receive nutrition regardless of whether or not a family member wants to end their life.

The bill would make it more difficult to remove the feeding tubes from incapacitated patients that do not leave advance directives asking that they receive lifesaving medical treatment.

Rep. Jeff Kottkamp (R-Cape Coral) proposed the legislation which allows food and fluids to be given to those who can’t speak for themselves, such as Terri Schiavo. It requires courts to presume that incapacitated patients would not want to be denied lifesaving medical care even though they had not stated their treatment preference in advance.

The House Judiciary Committee considered the bill Tuesday, but did not take a vote on it. A vote could take place during the coming weeks.

Bob Schindler Jr., Terri Schiavo’s brother, testified in favor of the bill. He said his sister deserves medical care and rehabilitation and has almost been killed on a few occasions.

"What the courts were doing to my sister was simply murder," Schindler said, according to an Associated Press report.

Opponents of the bill said it was wrong not to allow family members to make decisions for their loved ones — even if it meant taking a life.

"If a parent wanted to end the suffering of a child … we would essentially be forcing parents to not intervene," said Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

"This is one of the grossest intrusions of government into the private lives of individuals that I’ve seen," added Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, who indicated he would likely oppose the bill.

But Kottkamp said those who wish to not have extra medical care given to them should say so in an advanced directive. If not, we should "err on the side of life," Kottkamp said.

Pro-life advocates who are monitoring Terri’s case say the law would help her and others in similar circumstances.

Should the courts find Terri’s Law unconstitutional, Terri will likely be left without protection from Michael’s legal motion to remove her feeding tube for a third time. The bill would prohibit the courts from granting that motion.

Related web sites:
Florida House Judiciary Committee – https://www.myfloridahouse.com/committees_detail.aspx?id=2128
Terri Schiavo’s family – https://www.terrisfight.org