by Steven Ertelt
March 22, 2005
Tampa, FL (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge on Tuesday refused to stop Terri Schiavo’s painful starvation death and allow doctors to reinsert the feeding tube that provides her with food and water. The judge said attorneys for Terri Schiavo’s parents had not demonstrated enough of a likelihood that they would succeed in winning their case.
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.
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore wrote that Schiavo’s "life and liberty interests" had already been protected by Florida courts. Despite "these difficult and time-strained circumstances," Whittemore wrote in his decision, "this court is constrained to apply the law to the issues before it."
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida who has been helping Terri’s estranged husband Michael’s attorneys, told the Associated Press he liked the ruling.
"What this judge did is protect the freedom of people to make their own end-of-life decisions without the intrusion of politicians," Simon said.
However, Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother, said the family was "crushed" by the decision.
"To have to see my parents go through this is absolutely barbaric," he told ABC’s "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. "I’d love for these judges to sit in a room and see this happening as well."
A spokesman for Governor Jeb Bush told AP that he was "extremely disappointed and saddened" by the decision. Bush, yesterday, called on the Florida Senate to approve a House-passed measure that would protect Terri’s life.
"Gov. Bush will continue to do what he legally can within his powers to protect Terri Schiavo, a vulnerable person," said spokeswoman Alia Faraj.
During the hearing on Monday, Whittemore, a Clinton appointee, told David Gibbs, the Schindlers’ attorney, that he didn’t agree with the family’s arguments.
"I think you’d be hardpressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood" of winning the case, Whittemore said.
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.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and organizer of vigils outside of Terri’s hospice room and the Florida legislature, also condemned the ruling.
"By refusing to reinsert the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, Judge Whittemore has shown a profound disrespect for the constitutional rights and liberties of disabled persons all across America," he said.
"What makes his decision even more troubling is the fact that he waited over 24 hours to issue it while a young woman is being starved to death," Mahoney added.
Terri’s feeding tube was disconnected on Friday afternoon and she has been deprived of food and water since then.
Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org