Groups seek halt to tube removal at Schiavo rally
The crowd tries to sway legislators before Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is taken out.
Published March 14, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - Women knelt in prayer and raised their hands to the sky during a rally Sunday set up to urge state legislators and other officials to prevent Friday's court-ordered removal of the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive.
The brain-damaged woman's parents told the emotional crowd that their daughter still jokes with them and is trying to learn to say "I love you." And religious groups at the rally argued the removal of the feeding tube would be cruel.
"Terri may be disabled, but her life is of great worth to God," James Dobson, founder of the Christian group Focus on the Family, said on a recorded message that was played to the crowd.
Doctors say Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state - and that any movements or sounds she makes are coincidental and not a result of consciousness. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, contends his wife would not want to be kept alive artificially.
Bob and Mary Schindler doubt their daughter had end-of-life wishes and have fought their son-in-law in court for nearly seven years. They also dispute that she is in a vegetative state, saying she laughs, cries, interacts with them and tries to speak.
Bob Schindler said his daughter's situation is "the inception of genocide."
"What the Nazis were doing and what they're trying to do to Terri is the same thing," he said.
Steve Hering, an engineer who drove from Atlanta to attend the rally, held a sign reading "Criminals and animals don't get starved ... why should Terri?" Another sign read "Stop starving elderly and disabled people."
Members of the Christian youth group Bound 4 Life said they would go on a hunger strike if Schiavo's feeding tube is removed Friday. The group's youngest participants might drink fluids because of their age, said group member Carla Evans, 23.
State lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation requiring doctors to provide nutrition and hydration to incapacitated patients who didn't leave very specific advance instructions. The measure is designed to be retroactive and could apply to Terri Schiavo.
The bill is expected to move through the House in the next few days, and the Senate will likely consider a companion bill this week, said the Schindlers' attorney, David Gibbs III.
Rally organizers displayed dozens of roses that they said would be left without water in the Capitol courtyard until being presented to legislators on Tuesday as a reminder of the impending deadline.
Critics of the proposed law say it could force people who thought they'd denied such measures verbally or through an inexact living will to undergo surgery to insert a feeding tube. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has called the measure an assault on privacy rights.
[Last modified March 14, 2005, 05:15:06]
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