Judge to Decide if Terri Schiavo’s Parents Can Pursue Catholic Faith Defense

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judge to Decide if Terri Schiavo’s Parents Can Pursue Catholic Faith Defense Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 1, 2004

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — A local judge did not make a decision at a Thursday hearing to determine whether the parents of Terri Schiavo can move forward with their argument that starving the disabled woman to death by removing her feeding tube would violate her Catholic beliefs.

Circuit Court Judge George Greer said he would decide over the new few weeks whether attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler can gather evidence to defend their latest effort to save Terri’s life.

At a hearing on Tuesday, new Schindler attorney David Gibbs, a highly regarded religious liberties attorney, said Terri’s estranged husband Michael should not be allowed to starve Terri to death because Terri would want lifesaving medical treatment.

Gibbs argued that Terri, as a pro-life Catholic who attended twelve years of Catholic school, would likley have followed the Catholic church’s position on euthanasia.

Expanding on the Catholic Church’s pro-life policies on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the Pope in March said that removing the feeding tube of a disabled patient is immoral and amounts to "euthanasia by omission."

Michael’s attorney, euthanasia advocate George Felos, disputed the claim that the Pope’s statement was sufficient for Judge Greer to overturn his two previous decisions allowing Michael to euthanize Terri.

"It is not necessary for this court to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin," Felos told Greer, according to an AP report. "It certainly would be a matter the court should weigh very heavily before going down that road. It is not a road that is required."

Gibbs countered that the Pope’s statement was a significant new development worth of re-examining the decision to allow Michael to kill Terri.

"They would be the ones putting Terri on trial," Gibbs said of Michael and Felos, AP reported. "Our case is pretty simple: I say the pope would have changed her mind."

The religious liberties argument is the latest move by the Schindlers to save Terri’s life after the Florida Supreme Court declared Terri’s Law unconstitutional. That was the law that allowed Governor Jeb Bush to ask doctors to reinsert her feeding tube, thus saving her life.

Attorneys for Bush are deciding whether to ask the state’s high court to rehear the case or to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In March, Pope John Paul II also said that the lexicon used to describe patients like Terri — as being in a "vegetative state" was degrading and inhuman.

Providing food and water to such patients should be a natural thing to do and "morally obligatory," but not considered extraordinary measures, the Pope added.

"In particular, I want to emphasize that the administration of water and food . . . always represents a natural means of preservation of life, not a medical treatment."

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s family – https://www.terrisfight.org