Rebuffed governor is attacked by both sides

Published April 1, 2005

Gov. Jeb Bush tried twice, through the Legislature, to save Terri Schiavo.

The first time was in October 2003, when state lawmakers passed a law allowing him to order doctors to reinsert her feeding tube after it had been out for six days. The Florida Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional.

This last time, Bush took on a higher profile in the case after his brother, President Bush, said the federal government could do no more. The governor is a Catholic who fervently believes that the state should have done more to keep Schiavo alive.

"To have somebody starve to death troubles me greatly," Bush said last week.

But he could not persuade enough fellow Republicans in the state Senate to agree and support a bill.

The courts also rebuffed Bush at every turn. A neurologist who saw Schiavo on behalf of Bush's Department of Children and Families questioned whether Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, but his assessment was rejected by the courts.

Christian activists insisted Bush could do more.

"With the stroke of his pen, he could stop this," said Robert Schindler, Schiavo's father . "He's put Terri through a week of hell."

In the end, Florida's governor was under attack from those who said the government had no business meddling in a family matter and from those who said he wasn't doing enough.