Florida Court Sharply Questions Bush Attorneys in Terri Schiavo Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 31, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Court Sharply Questions Bush Attorneys in Terri Schiavo Case

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 31, 2004

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Perhaps indicating how it may rule on the lawsuit seeking to overturn Terri’s Law, members of the Florida Supreme Court sharply questioned attorneys for Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The case revolves around a request from Terri’s estranged husband Michael to overturn the law that allowed Bush to ask doctors to reinsert the feeding tube helping Terri stay alive.

Members of the state’s high court appear to be concerned that the law gave Governor Bush too much power, echoing a separation of powers concern Michael’s attorneys have put forward.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente called the law a way to give Bush "super appellate” power.

Meanwhile, Justice Charles Wells said he was concerned that the law essentially overturned a court ruling allowing Michael to remove the feeding tube and end Terri’s life.

However, Ken Conner, lead attorney for Governor Bush in the case, said doctors followed the court order and removed the feeding tube. During the six days following the removal, Terri began a painful death from starvation and dehydration.

That Governor Bush asked doctors to reinsert the tube didn’t overturn the previous court order, Conner said.

"It wasn’t like an order that said so-and-so shall be hanged by the neck until dead," Conner said, according to the AP report.

Meanwhile, AP reported that George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael’s attorney, told the justices that the central decision in the case was "who is entitled here to make a decision on a matter so personal and private as whether one would want artificial life support."

But Bush’s attorneys say Terri would not want to be killed and point out that lower courts prevented them from proving that point.

In their brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court, Bush attorneys wrote that Michael Schiavo’s "contention that Terri would want to refuse food and fluids, is crucial because it is the very question the Governor has been repeatedly precluded from investigating in this case."

"Clearly, Schiavo seeks to have this Court accept his incompetent, extra-record allegations as fact, while depriving the Governor of the opportunity to rebut the extra-record claims and prove or disprove the truth of his claims," the brief explains.

Governor Bush and Terri’s family say she would have wanted to remain alive and receive both lifesaving medical treatment as well as rehabilitative care to improve her condition.

Prevented from becoming a party in the lawsuit, the parents of Terri Schiavo filed a friend-of-the-court brief earlier this month in the case defending Terri’s Law.

Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird 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.

Related web sites:
Bush brief on Terri’s Law –
List of all briefs filed in Terri’s Law case –
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org