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Poll: Meddling in Schiavo case riled Floridians

Associated Press
Published April 14, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Florida voters give lukewarm approval to the U.S. Supreme Court's handling of the Terri Schiavo case, but reject the involvement of President Bush, Gov. Jeb Bush, lawmakers and the media in the end-of-life drama, according to a poll.

More than seven of 10 people surveyed, 71 percent, disapproved of the media's handling of the case, and 59 percent said they disapproved of the Bush brothers' involvement.

Both the governor and president tried to block removal of the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube. Schiavo died on March 31, nearly two weeks after the tube was removed by a judge's order.

"The poll is a warning to politicians to stay away from this issue," said Clay Richards, assistant director for the Quinnipiac (Conn.) University Polling Institute.

The weeklong random telephone survey of 1,044 registered Florida voters was completed Monday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Schiavo's fate was debated in Congress, and the president signed an extraordinary bill March 21 that let federal judges review her case.

More than two of every three respondents rejected the attempted intervention of lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington.

Half the respondents approved of the Supreme Court's refusal to become embroiled in the matter; 44 percent disagreed. The rest did not know or did not respond.

Federal courts refused to overturn rulings by state judges. The federal government has usually left right-to-die issues to the states, and the courts repeatedly found no merit in the arguments of Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

The Schindlers were fighting the effort by their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, to have his wife's feeding tube removed. He maintained that Terri, who suffered the brain damage when her heart stopped temporarily, had expressed a desire not to be kept alive in such circumstances.

The case wound its way through six courts for seven years. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene six times.

More than four of five poll respondents, 81 percent, said they have made their end-of-life wishes clear to their families, and 55 percent said they have a living will.

Gov. Bush maintained a 51 percent job approval rating, compared with 39 percent who don't like the way he is leading the state. Twenty-one percent of the Florida voters questioned said they would like to see him run for president; 69 percent said they wouldn't.

Florida voters continued to disapprove of President Bush's job performance, with 51 percent not agreeing with his leadership compared with 46 percent approving.

[Last modified April 14, 2005, 01:14:09]

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