Florida Officials Can’t Take Custody of Terri Schiavo, Judge Rules

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Officials Can’t Take Custody of Terri Schiavo, Judge Rules Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 24
, 2005

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida judge has ruled that state officials can’t take Terri Schiavo into custody while they investigate allegations of abuse and neglect on the part of her estranged husband Michael.

Circuit Court Judge George Greer, the same judge who twice ruled that Michael could starve Terri to death, said he would not hold hearings on a request by the Florida Department of Children and Families to take Terri into protective custody.

"My family is distressed and frustrated," Terri’s brother Bobby Schindler told reporters. "We don’t understand why the courts are adamant that my sister die."

In the request, the state agency cited new evidence from two neurologists who confirm that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Instead, they maintain that Terri is in a minimally conscious state and able to interact somewhat with her parents and family.

Florida DCF officials contend that Florida law allows them to take Terri into protective custody, despite the ruling. There was no word yet on whether they would do that.

Florida DCF secretary Lucy Hadi told the Palm Beach Post newspaper yesterday that her staff is relying on a state law giving authority to intervene on behalf of a vulnerable adult "suffering from abuse or neglect that presents a risk of death or serious physical injury."

In a press conference yesterday, Bush said a Mayo Clinic neurologist, Dr. William Cheshire, has uncovered new information alleging that Terri may have been misdiagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state.

Cheshire, who has spent time personally examining Terri this month, believes Terri is in a "minimally conscious state," not a "persistent vegetative state" as courts have alleged.

Dr. Joseph Fins of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center also reviewed Schiavo’s medical records for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Dr. Fins indicated Terri’s condition amy have been misdiagnosed and that she was more likely in a state of minimal consciousness rather than a PVS patient.

"I think now it can be argued that with the advent of minimally conscious state (as a diagnosis), that permanent vegetative state as a diagnosis becomes much more certain," Fins said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Greer also issued a ruling denying a new request from the Schindlers to reinsert the feeding tube based on the new reports from the neurologists.

Greer issued a ruling Wednesday preventing DCF from reconnecting the feeding tube and instructed local sheriffs to enforce the order. On Thursday, before ruling on the custody issue, Greer reinforced that order.

The Schindlers have filed a new request with Florida courts to stop Terri’s painful starvation death, citing new issues such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, but those actions are not likely to succeed.

|Also Thursday, David Gibbs, the attorney for the Schindlers, filed an amended version of a pending civil rights lawsuit against Michael and others in federal court in Tampa.

Michael’s lead attorney, euthanasia advocate George Felos, discussed that lawsuit with the Associated Press and said, "The new claims raised are even more insubstantial than the old claims."

He said he hoped that case would be settled and criticized state officials for trying to intervene again.

Related news stories:
Neurologists: Terri Schiavo Not in Persistent Vegetative State

Terri Schiavo’s Hospice Nurses Want Her to Die, Dissenter Fired

Media Slanting News Against Terri Schiavo, Report Says

Terri Schiavo Tried to Tell Parents’ Attorney She Wanted to Live

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