Terri Schiavo’s Parents File Brief Backing Law Preventing Her Starvation

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Parents File Brief Backing Law Preventing Her Starvation

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 15, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Prevented from becoming a party in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Terri’s Law, the parents of Terri Schiavo filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Thursday asking members of the Florida Supreme Court to declare the law valid that saved their daughter’s life.

"A central issue in this case is whether Terri Schiavo would choose, with full knowledge of the current circumstances, to refuse necessary food and fluids by tube," the amicus brief says.

"Regardless of what Terri might supposedly have chosen years ago, she retains the right under Florida law to change her mind. What Terri ‘would have’ done today is a question of fact that cannot be resolved on the pleadings," the brief adds.

A local judge prohibited Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, from joining the case. He claimed the law wouldn’t affect them, despite their relationship with their daughter.

"Since Terri’s parents have been disallowed from intervening in this case, it was important for us to file an amicus brief on their behalf in support of the constitutionality of Terri’s Law," said Jay Sekulow, lead counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Terri’s parents.

"Our arguments are clear: the lower court ignored Florida law in declaring Terri’s Law unconstitutional," Sekulow said. "Without question, the legislature and the Governor acted properly and constitutionally in protecting the life of Terri Schiavo, and we are hopeful the Florida Supreme Court will not remove the only measure that is keeping Terri alive."

Terri’s estranged husband Michael filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the law that allowed Florida Governor Jeb Bush to ask doctors to reinsert the feeding tube that is providing Terri with food and water. Without it, she would die a painful starvation death.

Whether Terri would want to live or die is a central question in the case.

Attorneys for Governor Bush say they were denied the opportunity in lower courts to prove that Terri would have wanted to remain alive and receive both lifesaving medical treatment as well as rehabilitative care to improve her condition.

A good friend of Terri’s remembers a conversation she had with Terri as they watched a documentary about a disabled person and the decision concerning medical care.

"Where there is life, there is hope," Terri told her friend.

However, Michael, who is living with another woman and already has two children with her, claims Terri would have wanted to die.

Michael stood to inherit hundreds of thousands of dollars from a medical malpractice judgment that was supposed to provide for Terri’s medical care and rehab. However, he’s spent almost all of it on legal bills.

Michael’s attorneys, including euthanasia advocate George Felos and the ACLU, say the main issue in the case is the separation of powers and that Terri’s Law violated that state constitutional principle.

The Schindlers’ brief disagrees with that contention and says the legislature and Governor did not violate the constitution.

"The Act allows for the restoration and maintenance of the status quo ante while the authorities stop and look both ways before sliding Terri across the intersection of no return," the brief explains.

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on August 31.