TERRY SCHIAVO'S LEGAL RIGHTS - Kristen Friend-Weaver

10/21/03

As Terri Schiavo enters her third day without food, her supporters still hope that Governor Bush will intervene to save her life. The Governor has been sympathetic to Terri’s family and supporters, but said yesterday that he feels he has no legal ground on which to oppose the court ordered removal of her feeding tube. Spokespeople for the Governor have said that since he has already written a letter to the judge and filed a friend of the court brief, he is now obligated to see that the court order is carried out. However, right to life activist Randall Terry disagrees. Earlier, he helped to coordinate the emergency hearing in Tallahassee he felt would force Bush to act…

In addition, supporters have sent Bush a series of legal opinions from lawyers who say he can intervene by ordering a criminal investigation of her husband Michael Schiavo, who has repeatedly insisted Terri would not want to live in her current state. Several people have been attending a round the clock vigil outside of the hospice she was placed in two and a half years ago. And, as a result of the national attention Terri’s case has received, some people have traveled hundreds of miles to attend the vigil. Tammy Mealton arrived from Monterey, Tennessee on Thursday and says she does not plan to leave until Terri is allowed to eat again. Mealton, who has had experience with similar cases, believes that Michael Schiavo does not have his wife’s best interests in mind…

Others who have visited with Terri agree. Thaddeus Malanowski, a priest and cofounder of a Children’s Clinic in Haiti, says he has been spending every Saturday with Terri and her parents for the last two years…

Although most of those at the vigil believe that Terri does have a good quality of life, some do not see that as an issue. Iris Peskus believes that things Terri may have said in the past about wanting to die are irrelevant. Peskus said that no matter what someone’s situation is in life, it is not up to them or others to take that life away…

Over the past several days, a flurry of death threats has forced Michael Schiavo to go into hiding. Schiave has also put pressure on Governor Bush to uphold the court order, and many of Terri’s supporters believe that he has given up prematurely on his wife. Jay Straub came from Dallas Texas to attend the vigil. He says that when he suffered from a severe brain injury, he was lucky to have the support of his entire family…

The Schindlers, who are staying in a trailer across the street from the hospice, have said that they are reassured by the fact that Terri is still awake after over two days without food. And they are still waiting to see if they can find one Judge who will agree that Terri can still improve. For WMNF news, I’m Kristen Friend-Weaver.

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