U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Protect Terri Schiavo, Too Late to Help

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Protect Terri Schiavo, Too Late to Help Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 17, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The U.S. Senate signed off on legislation late Thursday to protect Terri Schiavo. The bill is a more limited version of one approved by the House Wednesday night. However, Congress will not likely be able to finalize the legislation in time to prevent Terri’s starvation on Friday.

The Senate approved the measure on a voice vote that came after House members had adjourned.

Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the Senate had to pass the more limited bill because Senate Democrats, and even some Republicans, opposed the House language.

"We’ve made our best effort here and it does solve the problem," Santorum said after the vote. "We tried the House language, there was broad opposition on both sides of the aisle."

That the Senate passed a different version of the bill still leaves Terri in jeopardy because House members have already headed home for Easter recess and would not likely be able to take up the bill on Friday.

In a statement, Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, blasted Senate Democrats for opposing the House version.

"As Terri Schiavo lays helpless in Florida, one day away from the unthinkable and unforgivable, the Senate Democrats refused to join Republicans to act on her behalf," the said.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, said during the Senate debate that, if Congress, played "medical czar in case after case… there will be thousands of cases just like this."

"We can’t just sit by and allow this innocent woman to be starved to death,” said Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican, responded. "It’s logical to presume that people want to live.”

Senator Sam Brownback, a pro-life Kansas Republican, said he and Santorum met with House leaders to see what could be done.

"Rick and I went over and met with DeLay, and urged them to take the Senate bill. He said he’d see what he could do," Brownback told Reuters.

Terri Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and Terri’s brother Bobby walked the halls of Congress making last-minute requests to support a bill.

The House bill would remove cases like Schiavo’s from state courts and allow parents or anyone else with a close relationship to a disabled patient to get a federal court hearing if a feeding tube’s removal is pending.

It would only affect patients who did not leave an advance directive detailing preferred medical treatment and for whom a state judge had already authorizing withdrawing food and water.

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org