Terri Schiavo’s Law Defended in Brief From Governor Bush’s Attorneys
by Steven Ertelt
July 6, 2004
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Attorneys for Florida Governor Jeb Bush continued their effort to defend Terri’s Law with a brief filed on Tuesday in preparation for a hearing at the Florida Supreme Court. The high court will determine whether or not the law is constitutional or violates the state’s constitution.
Six days after Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael won a court order, last October, to remove her feeding tube, the Florida state legislature passed a law allowing Governor Bush to direct doctors to reinsert it.
In May, a Florida appeals court sided with Michael, who claimed that the law is unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers by granting authority to Governor Bush that trumped the power of the courts.
Bush’s attorneys dispute that point.
"Florida’s legislative, executive and judicial branches play co-equal roles in protecting the lives and health care choices of persons who, by disability, are especially vulnerable to the consequences of abuse, exploitation or mistake," the brief argues.
"The circuit court erred in ignoring this co-equal role and entering summary judgment declaring the Act unconstitutional without permitting the Governor discovery or a jury trial to determine disputed material facts," attorneys for Bush wrote.
Attorneys for Bush have been denied the opportunity, throughout the battle over Terri’s Law, to have the case appear before a jury to determine whether Terri would have wanted to be killed.
Governor Bush has said that Michael’s interests may conflict with Terri’s, implying it may be appropriate to appoint a new guardian on her behalf.
Terri’s family points to Michael’s failing to comply with a court order requiring him to file medical care and treatment plans for Terri annually as he is required. Several of Terri’s teeth have been removed as a result of medical neglect.
Michael claims Terri, who collapsed under suspicious circumstances in 1990, would not want to stay alive.
But Governor Bush and Terri’s family say that’s not the case. They contend she would have wanted appropriate medical treatment and rehabilitation that has been denied to her almost the entire time since her collapse.
A friend of Terri’s also points to her reaction to a television program regarding a disabled woman in a similar situation. "Where there’s life, there’s hope," Terri said, according to her friend.
The brief was written buy attorneys Ken Connor and Camille Godwin. Connor, who is pro-life, is the former president of the Family Research Council.
In June, the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal approved a motion put forward by George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael’s lawyer, asking the appeals court to let the Florida Supreme Court decide the case.
Michael, who is living with another woman and has already had two children with her, is seeking to overturn Terri’s Law. If the law is struck down, Michael has the right to end Terri’s life.
Oral arguments in the case have been set for August 31.
Meanwhile, a judge has prevented Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, from joining the case.
The Schindler family can still file amicus briefs in the case supporting Bush’s position in favor of Terri’s Law, but cannot become a party in the lawsuit.