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News of the Day ... in Perspective

9/25/2004

Florida Supreme Court strikes down Terri Schiavo’s law

In a unanimous decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the separation of powers clause in the state constitution prevented the legislature from passing a law “that allows the executive branch to interfere with the final judicial determination in a case.”

The law in question allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to order that Terri Schindler Schiavo’s feeding tube be reinserted six days into the process of starving and dehydrating her to death.

Mrs. Schiavo’s estranged husband contends that she would not want to live in her current disabled condition, declared by some to be a persistent vegetative state. Her parents, however, state that she now manifests a will and determination to live. Some physicians contest the diagnosis of PVS and believe the patient could improve on therapy that her husband has obstructed for years.

The case might be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Bush stated: “I’m disappointed for the moral reasons of the taking of innocent life without having…a full hearing on the facts of what her intent was.” He observed that it can take the courts 20 to 25 years to review death sentences.

Disability activists expressed concerns. “The court in this case has obviously put the constitutional principle of separation of powers over the individual’s right to due process. The court is more interested in protecting its turf than the people who occupy that turf,” stated Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet.

According to their written statement, the Schindler “family knew that this outcome was probable and so we are pursuing other legal avenues, which we hope will save Terri’s life.”

Michael Schiavo has repeatedly failed to appear for scheduled depositions in the guardianship case filed by his wife’s parents.

Additional information:

Florida Supreme Court Opinion

Statement by Terri’s parents: www.terrisfight.org

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