Florida Senate President Regrets Backing Law Helping Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Senate President Regrets Backing Law Helping Terri Schiavo

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 11, 2004

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The president of the Florida state Senate says he now regrets allowing a vote on the law that helped Terri Schiavo stay alive. Last October, after a judge granted Terri’s estranged husband Michael permission to remove Terri’s feeding tube, the Florida legislature passed Terri’s Law giving Governor Jeb Bush the ability to ask doctors to reinsert it.

Senate President Jim King now says he wishes he hadn’t voted for the measure. He told the St. Petersburg Times that voting for the bill was "probably one of the worst votes that I’ve ever done."

King told the newspaper he was under "unbelievable" pressure to vote in favor of Terri’s Law and was worried he would be blamed for her death if he blocked the bill. The phone calls and emails urging legislators to save Terri’s life were so numerous they crashed the phone and computer system.

King authored the Florida euthanasia law, considered a national model, that allows patients to refuse lifesaving medical treatment. He pushed for the law after watching his parents die a slow death in nursing homes.

Pat Anderson, the attorney for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, blasted King’s comments.

"Senator King forgets that Terri Schiavo is not dying and is young," Anderson told LifeNews.com. "He should not equate her with his elderly parents, who apparently died in a nursing home later than was convenient for him."

King said he would not attempt to repeal Terri’s Law, but that he expected courts to overturn it. Michael’s attorney George Felos has filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. Felos is getting legal help from the ACLU in the case.

Senator King has been the subject of further criticism following comments that he would refuse to allow new legislation that would make it more difficult to remove feeding tubes from incapacitated patients to come up for a vote.

King said he didn’t want to "roll back the hands of time" with a bill that "can dismantle what I consider to be my legacy," referring to his euthanasia law.

In a statement, the former Hemlock Society, an assisted suicide advocacy group now called Choices in Dying, "applauded" King’s "reluctance to deal with this bill."

Governor Bush said on Tuesday that he thought the state legislature should examine the bill to take a broader look at end-of-life care and decisions and he strongly defended his decision to sign Terri’s Law.

"I wanted to save a person’s life," Bush told the Associated Press.

ACTION: Contact Senator Jim King (R) at [email protected] or write to Senator Jim King, 9485 Regency Square Boulevard, Suite 108, Jacksonville, FL, 32225-8145 or call (904) 727-3600.