by Steven Ertelt
March 16, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Bills designed to protect Terri Schiavo head to the full Florida House and Senate after clearing their final committee hurdles in both chambers. If passed, the could prevent Terri’s estranged husband from starting a painful week-long starvation process that would ultimately kill her.
Committees in both chambers endorsed competing legislation on Tuesday.
The House bill would prevent doctors or a a legal guardian from allowing a person in a so-called persistent vegetative state to die by withholding food or water. That could only happen if the patient had not previously issued an advance directive authorizing it to be withheld.
The Senate bill would do the same thing but only in cases where family members disagreed on whether to maintain the feeding tube.
Although Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state, Florida courts have sided with Michael and ruled that she is in such a medical condition. As a result, the legislation would apply to Terri and prevent her death or the death of any similar patient.
Governor Jeb Bush is expected to sign the final bill into law.
"It is a statement of public policy that, in this culture, we don’t starve people to death," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican sponsoring the bill, told the St. Petersburg Times newspaper.
Pamela Hennessy, a representative of Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, applauded the votes and said she appreciated "everyone who contacted members of the Florida House to encourage favorable treatment of this very important bill to protect the lives and rights of Florida’s disabled community."
The Florida legislature passed a previous bill in late 2003 days after Terri’s feeding tube was removed for a second time. That bill, aimed specifically at her and authorizing Governor Bush to ask doctors to reinsert the tube, was ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.