Archive for Thursday, October 23, 2003

Vegetative patient’s feeding tube reinserted

October 23, 2003

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— A brain-damaged woman was receiving nourishment through a new feeding tube Wednesday, a week after her husband had tried to have such treatment ended but was blocked by the Florida Legislature.

Terri Schiavo, 39, was being fed through a tube inserted into her abdomen when family members, fighting an epic battle to keep her alive, visited late Wednesday, said their attorney, Pat Anderson.

Terri Schiavo looked gaunt, with red-ringed eyes, Anderson said, adding: "I think what we're looking at is the price of moving her."

The feeding tube was reinserted during a short stay at Morton Plant Hospital, where the woman was taken after Gov. Jeb Bush, heeding the Legislature's wishes, intervened in the bitter right-to-die case and ordered her kept alive.

Husband Michael Schiavo's attorney angrily complained the woman was being mistreated by attempts to keep her alive, and legal scholars predicted that Bush's intervention would be ruled unconstitutional.

"It is so repugnant to so many provisions of Florida's constitution, we are all certain that it will be overturned," lawyer George Felos said.

Felos said earlier that the woman was quietly dying after the tube was removed, that her heartbeat had become irregular and her kidneys were shutting down, and that it was "simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process."

"The hysterical opposition to his case says so much more about us as a society," he said. "I think it says so much more about our fear of death than the sanctity of life."

The bill sent to Bush was designed to be as narrow as possible. It is limited to cases in which the patient left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state, has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed, and where a family member has challenged the removal.

Legal experts widely agreed the governor and Legislature went too far.

"This particular administration has not yet understood why we have separation of powers," said former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan. "They seem to believe that the governor and the Legislature can do whatever they want and the courts should not interfere, and that's not right."

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