House and Senate Issue Subpoenas to Protect Terri Schiavo

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

House and Senate Issue Subpoenas to Protect Terri Schiavo Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 18, 2005

Washington, DC ( — House and Senate committees on Friday issued subpoenas intended to prevent Friday afternoon’s starvation of Terri Schiavo.

The Senate Health Committee has asked that Terri and her estranged husband Michael appear before the committee on March 28 to discuss, according to a statement by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, "health care policies and practices relevant to the care of non-ambulatory people such as [Terri]."

"The Senate and House remain dedicated to saving Terry Schiavo’s life," Frist explained.

In her disabled state, Terri cannot appear before the committee. However, the subpoena grants her protection because it is illegal to harm or kill a person who has been subpoenaed or prevent the person from appearing.

As a result, Terri could find herself under the protection of the subpoena while the House and Senate resolve legislation that would allow her parents to take their case preventing her starvation to federal courts. Should a federal court decide to take their case, it could issue a stay preventing the starvation until the case is resolved.

Meanwhile, the House Government Reform Committee said it would issue a subpoena to the doctors and hospice administrators who would be responsible for removing Terri’s feeding tube.

House leaders issued a statement late Thursday saying they would "issue a subpoena which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow Congress to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive."

A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, told the Associated Press, "We feel that we’re on comfortable ground given the federal government’s interest in long-term care."

Members of Congress have also asked a U.S. Attorney in Washington for a temporary restraining order to be issued by a judge Friday preventing Terri’s starvation.

The moves come after the House and Senate failed Thursday to agree on a a legislative approach to prevent the 7 to 10 day long starvation death from commencing.

The House approved a broad measure helping Terri and other disabled people and the Senate passed a bill protecting just Terri, but only after House members adjourned for Easter break. That prevented House members from agreeing to the Senate bill unless they come back to Washington next week.

Terri’s brother Bobby Schindler has been on Capitol Hill lobbying members of Congress to pass any legislation to help her.

"She has an incredible will to live," he told reporters. "She hasn’t given up on us these past 15 years. We’re going to do everything we can to try to provide her the help she deserves and get her home and be with her family."

ACTION: Contact any Representative or any Senator and urge them to do all they can to save Terri’s life. You can also reach any member of Congress by calling 202-224-3121.

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s parents –