Terri Schiavo Back On Feeding Tube;
Advocacy Efforts Work To Spare Terri's Life
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 21, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Terri Schiavo is receiving food and water through a feeding tube installed into her stomach late Tuesday.
Doctors reinserted the tube at a local hospital, under order of Governor Jeb Bush, six days after it had been removed.
"I'm ecstatic she's being fed again," said her brother, Bob Schindler Jr. "I dont think I can describe the way I feel right now. It's been unreal."
Bush was granted authority by the state legislature to order the feeding tube replaced just a few hours earlier in the day. The Senate voted 23-14 to pass a measure that was specifically written to save Terri. The House then approved it with a 73-24 vote. The governor signed the bill into law and issued the order about one hour later.
George Felos, attorney for Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, immediately filed a request for an injunction to stop the feeding tube from being replaced. Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who had consistently sided with Schiavo for the last several years, rejected the request. Felos' request with another state court was also denied.
"We won," Terri's father, Robert Schindler, said after the ruling. "Terri won."
Whether the feeding tube will save Terri's life was not clear late Tuesday. According to family members, her kidneys had begun shutting down and her circulation had been impaired during the six days she went without food or water.
Disability rights groups and right to life groups celebrated cautiously, noting that the law is expected to be challenged through the same courts that ordered her feeding tube removed. Their grassroots efforts were the primary force that pressured Bush to intervene in the case. During the past few days, the governor received tens of thousands of messages from around the world asking him to stop Terri's starvation death.
Terri collapsed in February 1990 at age 26 from a chemical imbalance and was without oxygen for several minutes. Some doctors have said that the damage to her brain left her in a "persistent vegetative state" from which she cannot recover.
Michael Schiavo claims his wife told him before her collapse that she would not want to live "by artificial means". In 1998 he petitioned the court for permission to have the feeding tube removed. Until Tuesday night, the courts had consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought to keep their daughter alive and have rehabilitative therapies tried. Several medical professionals have claimed that Terri is not in a vegetative state, and that she could benefit from therapies -- including speech and swallowing therapies -- which her husband has denied her for several years. Video tapes also show Terri apparently laughing, smiling, interacting with family members, and following basic directions less than two years ago. The Schindlers accuse their son-in-law of abusing and neglecting Terri, and suspect him in bringing about her initial collapse.
The law giving Bush the power to order the feeding tube replaced also directs the Circuit Court to appoint a new guardian for Terri.
Activists holding a 24-hour vigil in front of the hospice where Terri has been kept for the past few years cheered as an ambulance took her to the hospital to have the feeding tube replaced.
"Brain-Damaged Fla. Woman Receiving Fluids" (Associated Press via ABC News)
"Vote was a tough one for area lawmakers" (Pensacola News Journal)