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For their own good
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Time to let Terri go
A Times Editorial
Published November 7, 2004
There comes a point when the court system itself becomes an obstructionist force, and that point has been reached in the Terri Schiavo saga. Time and again for the past six years, state and federal courts have found that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, and that Michael Schiavo, her husband, is representing her wishes in seeking to have her feeding tube removed. Yet, still there has been no resolution.
A large part of the blame for this unjustifiable delay rests with Gov. Jeb Bush and former House Speaker Johnnie Byrd. Days after Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed in October 2003, a frenzied Legislature, browbeaten by Byrd and extreme right-wing elements, passed "Terri's Law," giving the governor the discretion to reinsert the tube. It was an exertion of raw power, injecting the government into a family matter and disregarding a series of uniform court determinations. Putting matters right, a unanimous Florida Supreme Court in September found Terri's Law unconstitutional.
At that point, Michael Schiavo should have easily obtained a court order allowing him to direct the removal of his wife's feeding tube. But that has not happened. Bush and Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, are continuing to press the courts for more delays, and the courts seem to be acceding to their tactics.
The Florida Supreme Court is giving Bush time to appeal its ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. An appeal would be an irresponsible waste of taxpayer dollars. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer has ruled that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube cannot be removed until the 2nd District Court of Appeal considers the Schindler's request for a new hearing - a process that could take months. The Schindlers are now claiming that recent statements by Pope John Paul II opposing the removal of feeding tubes for people in vegetative states would have influenced Terri Schiavo, a Catholic, and caused her to object to having her tube removed. It is a desperate claim raised solely to continue gaming the system. As long as the litigation stays alive, Terri Schiavo can be forced to continue her vegetative existence.
Michael Schiavo says he may give up the fight. Who can blame him? He has the power of the governor against him and a court system seemingly unwilling to let its years of rulings stand as a final word. When delay equals victory for the side with endless resources, the courts should recognize the ploy. It is past time for the courts to end this family's tragedy and allow Terri Schiavo the peaceful end her husband believes she would have wanted.