by Steven Ertelt
March 17, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida state Senate on Thursday defeated a bill deigned to protect Terri Schiavo. The result could mean that the only hope to prevent the beginning of Terri’s 7-10 day long starvation death lies with Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Senator Jim King, a Republican who is the president of the Senate, was terse in his opposition to getting the Senate involved again in the contentious debate over the disabled woman.
"As far as we’re concerned we don’t want anything to change the existing law," King said. He was one of nine Republicans to vote against the bill.
The Senate opted against the bill on a 21-16 vote after the House approved its version 78-37.
Though the Senate could vote on the House bill, the vote would likely be the same or worse since the House bill is more comprehensive than the narrower measure the Senate defeated.
After the vote, David Gibbs, the lead attorney for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, said few options remain.
"Everything is a longshot," Gibbs told the Associated Press.
Governor Jeb Bush, who has said he would sign a measure, held out more hope that something could be done in the legislature to protect Terri.
"The bill is certainly not dead, but it does appear that they’re having some difficulty," he said, according to an AP report. "I’m just disappointed, but that’s their decision."
Sen. Daniel Webster, also a Republican, indicated he would likely pull the bill on Friday unless enough votes changed hands.
The House 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 voted on a more limited bill that would do the same thing, but only in cases where family members disagreed on whether to maintain the feeding tube.
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.