Pro-Life Groups: Congress Has One More Chance to Save Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 18, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups: Congress Has One More Chance to Save Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 18, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life groups are not giving up on saving Terri Schiavo, even though it appeared legislation in both Congress and the Florida state legislature would not be approved to prevent her Friday afternoon starvation.

On Thursday, the House passed broad legislation to help Terri’s parents, and others in similar situations, take their cases from state to federal courts.

The Senate passed a more narrow bill specifically applying to Terri’s situation and only approved it after the House adjourned for Easter recess and members began catching plane flights home.

Because the bills were different, one chamber has to approve the legislation passed by the other or enter a conference committee with House and Senate members to work out the differences.

With the Senate refusing to accept the House bill and House members on planes headed home, neither action looked likely.

However, one leading pro-life group is not giving up the fight.

The National Right to Life Committee issued a statement late Thursday encouraging pro-life advocates to contact members of Congress.

Their hope is that the Senate will approve the House measure or that House members will scurry back to Washington Friday or early next week to approve the Senate bill before Terri dies.

"National Right to Life is calling on constituents immediately to contact their Senators and Representative and urge them to do whatever is necessary to resolve the differences between the chambers and get a bill that will save Terri Schiavo to the President’s desk before it is too late," the group said.

Florida Senator Mel Martinez, a pro-life Republican who sponsored the Senate bill, said he hoped House leaders would reconvene to pass the Senate version of the bill — even if it meant coming back to the capital on Monday.

"I just can’t conceive that this is going to be the end of this story," Martinez said. "A life hangs in the balance, and I know people of good will are trying to make this happen."

Once they leave, members of Congress are not scheduled to return until April 4 or 5. After Terri’s feeding tube is removed, she is only expected to endure 7 to 10 days of a painful starvation until she dies.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Florida could not agree on a bill to save Terri.

The Florida state House approved legislation by a wide margin that 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.

However, the Florida state Senate weighed a similar measure and voted against it.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush acknowledged that there was little chance the Florida legislature could save Terri this time.

"The bill is certainly not dead, but it does appear that they’re having some difficulty," he said. "I’m just disappointed, but that’s their decision.

The state Senate could consider the House version of the bill on Friday, but it is unlikely the Senate would reverse Thursday’s 21-16 vote.

"I hope this is not a political issue," Bob Schindler said after the Senate vote. "My daughter’s life is at stake."

Schindler and his wife and their attorney David Gibbs met with Governor Bush at his office after the vote.

Gibbs said he hoped some senators would reconsider their positions overnight and come back in the morning with a desire to pass a bill to save Terri.

ACTION: Contact any Representative or any Senator. You can also reach any member of Congress by calling 202-224-3121. Read the complete story.

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Terri Schiavo’s parents –