Terri Schiavo Judge Won’t Issue Ruling Immediately on Lawsuit

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Judge Won’t Issue Ruling Immediately on Lawsuit

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 21, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge indicated he will not immediately issue a ruling in the lawsuit filed seeking to prevent, making her parents wait longer to find out whether or not Terri Schiavo will starve to death. The judge also indicated he may rule against Bob and Mary Schindler.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore held a two hour hearing Monday afternoon on the lawsuit. Whittemore, a Clinton appointee, gave no indication as to when he will decide on either the merits of the case or a request for an injunction preventing Terri’s starvation and allowing the feeding tube to be reinserted.

"I will not tell you when, how or how long it will take,” Whittemore said.

The Schindlers’ lawsuit states that Florida courts abrogated Terri’s 1st Amendment religious liberties by failing to consider that, as a Catholic, Terri likely would oppose her estranged husband’s bid to euthanize her.

Terri’s parents also contend that Terri’s due process rights were violated because she has never had her own attorney during the eight-year long battle.

Judge Whittemore told David Gibbs, the Schindlers’ attorney, that he didn’t agree with those arguments.

"I think you’d be hardpressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood" of winning the case, Whittemore said, according to an Associated Press report.

During the hearing, David Gibbs, the Schindlers’ attorney, said forcing Terri to die from starvation and dehydration "a mortal sin" because of her Catholic faith.

"It is a complete violation to her rights and to her religious liberty, to force her in a position of refusing nutrition," Gibbs told Whittemore, AP reported.

George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael’s lead attorney, told the judge that the case has been thoroughly litigated and that the Schindlers are bringing up arguments that have been overturned in Florida courts.

"Every possible issue has been raised and re-raised, litigated and re-litigated," Felos said. "It’s the elongation of these proceedings that have violated Mrs. Schiavo’s due process rights."

However, Gibbs said the new law passed by Congress allows a ”from the beginning review" of the court decisions leading up to removing the feeding tube Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration submitted a legal paper siding with the Schindlers.

"By supporting Mrs. Schiavo’s parents’ motion for a temporary restraining order, the United States is working to ensure that Mrs. Schiavo’s parents’ opportunity to be heard on behalf of their daughter is not lost irrevocably," a Justice Department spokesman said.

Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo’s sister, told Reuters that her family is cautiously optimistic.

"We are very hopeful that the federal courts will follow the will of Congress and save my sister’s life," Vitadmo said.

If Judge Whittemore grants the injunction, an ambulance is waiting at Woodside Hospice, where Terri lives, to take her to a local hospital to reinsert the feeding tube.

Whittemore is a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida based in Tampa, Florida.

Should he decide against taking the case or rule against the Schindlers, they would move next to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Atlanta.

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