Terri Schiavo’s Family, Pro-Life Groups React to Florida Supreme Court Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Family, Pro-Life Groups React to Florida Supreme Court Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 23, 2004

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Members of Terri Schiavo’s family were disappointed but not surprised at the decision by the Florida Supreme Court to overturn Terri’s Law, a legislative measure allowing Governor Jeb Bush to protect the disabled woman’s life.

Robert Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s father, told LifeNews.com that it appeared members of the state’s high court had already made up their minds before the case was presented.

"It was obvious that the Florida Supreme Court made their decision before they had oral arguments," Schindler told LifeNews.com. "I am surprised they waited 3 weeks to make it public."

Though the court unanimously turned back the law, and possibly set the stage for Terri’s estranged husband to kill her through a long, painful starvation, justices attempted to show compassion to the Schindler family.

"Our hearts can fully comprehend the grief so fully demonstrated by Theresa’s family members on this record. But our hearts are not the law," they wrote in the ruling.

Meanwhile, pro-life groups responded to the decision and leading pro-life advocate Dr. James Dobson said he was "appalled" at the ruling.

"[T]he Florida Supreme Court has chosen to override the will of the people of Florida and their elected representatives, who passed ‘Terri’s Law’ last fall," Dobson said.

The case illustrates the problem of courts, Dobson said, that overturn the will of the people and turn themselves into lawmaking bodies.

"That the Court would justify its ruling in the name of a violation of the separation of powers between the branches of government is the ultimate insult: It is the courts that have been usurping the constitutional duty of the legislatures to make law rather than interpret it," Dobson added.

Other pro-life advocates worried about the kind of precedent the case will set as it could put the lives of elderly and disabled people in serious jeopardy.

"Today’s ruling on ‘Terri’s Law’ is a stark reminder that the lives of many disabled Americans, including the life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, are in danger," explained Burke Balch, J.D., director of the NRLC Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics.

"[I]t is imperative that we do not set a precedent which would allow the court system to arbitrarily induce the death of disabled persons who do not have advanced health care directive," Balch added.