Legal Efforts Fading in Schiavo Case

Jim Teeple

Legal efforts to reattach a severely brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube appeared to be coming to an end on Thursday, with rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and a Florida judge. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, and a Florida judge barred state officials from intervening to try to keep Terri Schiavo alive.

Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who ordered Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube removed last week, ruled against a request by Florida state welfare officials to take protective custody of Terri Schiavo and reattach her feeding tube. The Florida judge also ruled against a second motion that would have allowed Florida's Governor Jeb Bush to intervene in the case on an emergency basis.

The decisions followed a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that rejected a plea from Ms. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to do the same. The Supreme Court decision which came in a brief one-page order was welcomed by George Felos who is the lawyer for Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's husband and legal guardian.

"We are very grateful for the Court's ruling and we believe that effectively ends the litigation in this case, " he said.

Michael Schiavo has been fighting in Florida courts for more than a decade to remove his wife's feeding tube, saying she had told him she did not wish to be kept alive artificially. Terri Schiavo has been hospitalized with severe brain damage since 1990 when her heart stopped briefly, due a chemical imbalance, believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder.

Terri Schiavo's parents say they believe their daughter could recover some brain functions with therapy. On Sunday, the U.S. Congress passed emergency legislation allowing the Schindlers to move their case to the Federal Court system, something that has now come to an end.

Schiavo attorney George Felos told reporters Thursday he believes judicial appeals have now been exhausted.

"I mention again I think it should become obvious to one and every observer that that the entire judicial system of the United States, the state courts of Florida, the entire Federal Judiciary, has said this case must end," he said. "This case is over. Mrs. Schiavo's legal rights have been ruled on again and again, the courts have consistently found that she did not want to remain alive artificially. Her wishes should be carried out."

The latest legal wrangling in Florida was prompted by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who said on Wednesday that a new medical review by state authorities showed Ms. Schiavo's brain damage might not be as severe as initially diagnosed. Governor Bush said Ms. Schiavo's medical condition needed to be stabilized, so her case could be reviewed by state welfare officials who might need to take her into protective custody.

"The neurologist's review indicates that Terri may have been misdiagnosed, and it is more likely that she is in a state of minimal consciousness rather than in a persistent vegetative state," he said. "This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action."

In addition to the legal setbacks suffered by Terri Schiavo's parents Thursday, Florida's Senate on Wednesday also rejected a measure to intervene in the case.

Supporters of Ms. Schiavo's parents are vowing to pursue further legal avenues to intervene in the case although it is not clear at this point what those might be.

President Bush issued a statement Thursday from his ranch in Texas, saying he was saddened by the Supreme Court Ruling. The statement says "when there is a complex case such as this, where serious questions have been raised, the president believes we ought to err on the side of life."

Law enforcement authorities have reinforced security at the hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida where Terri Schiavo is bedridden. Over the past few days police have arrested a number of protesters who support Ms. Schiavo's parents.

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was disconnected last Friday, but medical experts say the brain damaged woman could live for as long as another week, if her feeding tube is not reattached.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs