Pressure Increases on Florida Legislature to Help Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pressure Increases on Florida Legislature to Help Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 22, 2005

Washington, DC ( — With a federal judge’s ruling against Terri Schiavo’s parents request to stop the painful starvation death she is experiencing, pressure is mounting on the Florida legislature to approve a bill that stalled in the Florida Senate last week.

When it voted, the Florida Senate opposed the bill on a 21-16 margin. However, a handful of senators may be changing their minds.

Sen. Larcenia Bullard told the Associated Press had considered supporting the bill, but harsh words from some pro-life advocates caused her to change her mind.

"At this point, they’ve turned me off," she said Tuesday of the protesters who have distributed "wanted style" posters of nine other Republican senators who opposed the proposal.

"I now question their motives," Bullard, a Democrat, said. "I had to ask a question, ‘Are you serving the same God that I serve?’"

The measure, approved by a wide bipartisan margin in the Florida House, would have required courts and doctors to presume that a patient would want food and water unless they had previously indicated otherwise in an advance directive.

Terri never indicated the kind of medical treatment she would want in any sort of legal document, though she told a best friend that she would not want to be deprived of lifesaving medical care.

Pro-life advocates continue to make calls and send emails to lawmakers and one group took 200,000 petitions on Monday to legislators encouraging them to pass the bill.

Meanwhile, Governor Jeb Bush said he would step up his efforts to see that a bill is passed.

However, Sen. Daniel Webster, the sponsor of the measure in the Florida Senate, says he has yet to persuade a single person to change their position on the bill. He would need three members of the chamber to reverse their decision to prevail on a vote.

"It takes a majority in the Senate to pass anything, and we don’t have a majority vote," Webster told AP. "I don’t see a clear path."

Webster did indicate that four or five members have come to him and said they are potentially considering changing their minds. If they do, the Senate could take up the bill as early as Wednesday for another vote.

As Terri completed the fourth day without food and water, her mother, Mary Schindler, begged lawmakers to reconsider.

"Please, senators, for the love of God, I’m begging you, don’t let my daughter die of thirst," Mary Schindler said from Woodside Hospice where Terri lives.

After her comments, Mary broke down in tears.