by Steven Ertelt
March 17, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Florida lawmakers on Wednesday worked to finalized legislation to protect Terri Schiavo. They have to overcome a House and Senate version that approach protecting the disabled woman, and others like her, in differing ways.
The Florida House has passed legislation would prevent doctors or 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.
Rep. John Stargel, a Republican, said he believed House members wouldn’t agree to the Senate version because of concerns its was unconstitutional.
"Anything’s possible, but I don’t think that’s the direction we’re heading in, Stargel said. "I believe it’s contrary to the case law."
Legislators conferred together in private most of the day Wednesday looking for a solution so the bill would not be stuck in an impasse. Rep. Dudley Goodlette, a Naples Republican, confirmed the House concerns, but said he hoped both chambers could reach an agreement.
However, even if a compromise measure is crafted, the bill may not make it out of the Florida state Senate due to a lack of votes.
Several members of the Senate, including Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican and Jim King, a Republican from Jacksonville, have indicated they are undecided or may not vote for the bill.
Both the Florida House and Senate are slated to vote on their own measures on Thursday.
Governor Jeb Bush is expected to sign the final bill into law.
"As a society, we need to protect innocent life and we should err on the side of caution," Bush said.
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.