Disability Rights Groups Back Congressional Bill Helping Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 8, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Disability Rights Groups Back Congressional Bill Helping Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 8, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Disability rights groups announced Tuesday that they back new Congressional legislation that could provide Bob and Mary Schindler with another opportunity to save their daughter’s life.

Florida Rep. Dave Weldon, a Republican, is introducing legislation today called the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act. The bill would allow Terri’s parents to use a "writ of habeas corpus" to take the case out of the Florida state courts and to the federal court system.

The habeas corpus review would apply for any other patients like Terri who are subject to involuntary starvation and that’s what’s earning it praise from disability activists.

"The non-voluntary and involuntary starvation and dehydration of people with disabilities is a more prevalent problem than most people realize," the disabled rights group Not Dead Yet said in a joint statement with other organizations.

"The involvement and concern of disability groups in this issue may come as a surprise to many policymakers," the statement explained. "Unfortunately, the media has ignored the disability interests in what has been commonly and erroneously referred to as a ‘right to die’ issue."

The group said the euthanasia debate has wrongly been portrayed as one between pro-life conservatives on one hand and pro-euthanasia liberals on the other.

Several groups joined Not Dead Yet in supporting the Weldon bill. They included: Center on Self-Determination, Freedom Clearinghouse, Hospice Patients Alliance, Mouth Magazine, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Society for Disability Studies, World Association of Persons with Disabilities.

A representative of the National Right to Life Committee explained the policy behind the bill last week.

“Congress can act to ensure a federal court hearing on whether or not Terri will die of starvation and dehydration,” said Lori Kehoe, who monitors Congressional issues for the group’s medical ethics division.

“A proceeding known as the ‘writ of habeas corpus,’ which is protected by the U.S. Constitution, has been used for centuries to give a hearing to those whose liberty has been constrained by state courts in violation of the Constitution or federal laws," Kehoe explained.

Normally, anyone can use a writ of habeas corpus, but NRLC says Congress needs to act in this instance because "is unclear that the current statutes and precedents give [Terri] a right to it."

Related web sites:
Not Dead Yet – https://www.notdeadyet.org
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org