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Terri Schiavo, R.I.P.? The Florida supreme court has odd notions about caring for the disabled

Walter M. Weber

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While the nation was transfixed on the Republican convention at Madison Square Garden, down the east coast from there the Florida supreme court heard oral arguments on the morning of August 31 in the case of Bush v. Schiavo. At issue is the validity, under the Florida constitution, of a law the Florida state legislature passed to save Terri Schiavo, a mentally disabled woman, from death by starvation and dehydration.

Judging by the worrisome questioning from the state supreme-court justices, Terri's Law may be about to fall.

Not one of the justices even hinted that the facts about Terri's situation might make the slightest difference. That's a huge omission, because it is precisely the lower court's failure to allow any discovery and judgment of the relevant facts in this case that forms the centerpiece of the supreme-court appeal. Moreover, it is the facts that make this case particularly disturbing.

Terri Schiavo fell into a coma at age 26 under mysterious circumstances. She came out of the coma weeks later, but was left with severe brain damage. Some blame the incident on an internal potassium imbalance; others raise more sinister possibilities involving Terri's husband Michael, pointing to evidence of marital discord and troubling bone-scan evidence suggesting unexplained physical trauma. Be that as it may, Terri's husband Michael became Terri's guardian and coordinated her lawsuit alleging that medical negligence led to her brain injuries. He testified to his intent to care devotedly for Terri for decades to come, and the jury awarded more than a million dollars in damages based on Terri's lengthy expected lifespan.

Did I say lengthy? Michael, Terri's legal heir, had a "Do Not Resuscitate" order posted for his wife just months after the million-dollar jury award.

But Terri didn't die. She kept living. And living.

Read the entire article on the National Review Online website.

Posted: 9/15/04



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