Appeals Court Rejects Terri Schiavo’s Parents’ Religious Liberties Arguments

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Appeals Court Rejects Terri Schiavo’s Parents’ Religious Liberties Arguments Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 29, 2004

Clearwater, FL ( — In a decision released Wednesday with no written opinion, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal denied an appeal filed by the parents of disabled woman Terri Schiavo saying that starving her to death would be a violation of her religious liberties.

Bob and Mary Schindler argue that euthanizing Terri would abrogate her First Amendment religious rights. As a Catholic, Terri likely would agree with the church’s position against euthanasia.

The Schindlers pointed to recent comments against euthanasia and assisted suicide by Pope John Paul II. The pontiff has said that removing the feeding tube form a disabled patient like Terri constitutes "euthanasia by omission."

The appeals court’s decision upholds a ruling by Circuit Court Judge George Greer in October also denying the religious liberties arguments.

Terri’s estranged husband Michael praised the appeal courts decision in a press release from George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is his lead attorney.

Michael called it a "prompt and definitive denial of the Schindlers’ frivolous claim."

In an email to, Terri’s father Bob Schindler said he was surprised to lean that Felos had issued the press release before the court notified the Schindlers’ attorneys of the decision.

Schindler says the appeals court "did not file an opinion because they could not find any legitimate explanation to reject the appeal motion."

When the appeals court’s decision is finalized in fifteen days, the stay put in place by Judge Greer will be lifted. At that point, Michael will again be able to tell doctors to remove the feeding tube.

If removed, medical experts say Terri will die from a seven to ten day painful and agonizing death as she is denied food and water.

The Schindlers can ask the appeals court to rehear the motion or can appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court, which has previously ruled against them.

In either case, a new request of Judge Greer must be made to issue another stay preventing Michael from taking Terri’s life.

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Terri Schiavo’s family –