TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)–The Florida Supreme Court declined a request for a re-hearing in the Terri Schiavo case Oct. 21, moving the 40-year-old disabled woman one step closer to a death by starvation.
Without comment the seven justices declined a request from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to reconsider their Sept. 23 decision in which they overturned a law that had kept the woman alive. In that decision the high court ruled that a law allowing the governor to order the resumption of Schiavo’s feeding and hydration tube was unconstitutional. The Florida legislature had passed the law last October, reversing a lower court’s ruling ordering the removal of Schiavo’s tube.
“We are disappointed with the ruling and are reviewing our legal options,” Jill Bratina, Bush’s spokeswoman, told the Associated Press.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. In addition, Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, are pushing for a re-hearing of a trial in a lower court, arguing that Schiavo would want to adhere to Pope John Paul II’s pro-life teaching. Schiavo is Catholic.
In a March statement, the pope condemned the removal of a feeding tube of a patient in a “persistent vegetative state,” while at the same time decrying the classification of a human being as a “vegetable” in any description.
Schiavo, who for years has been at the center of a national right-to-life case, has been in and out of nursing homes and hospice care since she collapsed in 1990. With her heart stopped, her brain was deprived of oxygen and she became severely disabled. Some doctors refer to her condition as a “persistent vegetative state,” while others have said that if rehabilitation had been made available to her, she might have improved.
Her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, who has since fathered two children with his live-in girlfriend, has sought the removal of his wife’s feeding tube for nearly a decade, saying it was what his wife wanted. However, Terri Schiavo left no written request.
Last year a lower court judge agreed with Michael Schiavo and ordered the feeding tube removed, but the Florida legislature passed what was named “Terri’s Law,” allowing Bush to order the tube to be re-inserted. Now, the Florida Supreme Court’s latest rulings once again threaten Terri Schiavo’s life.
In a Oct. 4 motion requesting a re-hearing, the governor’s lawyers argued that the high court’s decision had incorrectly assumed Bush’s actions were unconstitutional, had not allowed him “due process” in exploring information that had been presented to lower courts, and had incorrectly applied an analysis of the separation of powers that could eventually “throw the operation of state government into disarray.”
“The protection of vulnerable persons with disabilities requires that all three branches remain vigilant in defense of their rights,” the motion read.