Georgia Lawmaker Pulls Feeding Tube Legislation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 3, 2006
ATLANTA, GEORGIA--A state lawmaker, who claimed to represent the concerns of disability rights advocates, has withdrawn a bill that would have made it a crime to remove a feeding tube from a person who had not expressed such wishes verbally or in a living will.
Senator Chip Rogers withdrew the measure last Wednesday, just two weeks after he had introduced it.
Rogers said he filed the proposed legislation to avoid the frustration of long legal battles such as that of Terri Schiavo in Florida.
Rogers told the Associated Press that he pulled the bill because it had legal flaws and, as written, did not reflect his true intentions. Specifically, he said, the bill presumed that a person with a mental disability who had not provided a written directive or verbal request would want to be nourished through a feeding tube.
Terri Schiavo died in March of 2005 less than two weeks after her husband and guardian had her feeding tube removed. Even though Terri left no written instructions before her 1990 brain injury at age 26, Michael Schiavo said she had told him she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
Disability rights groups supported Terri's parents who claimed that their daughter would not have wanted to die of starvation and dehydration, and that Mr. Schiavo had conflicts of interest in wanting his wife to die.
The case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court before it was returned to local courts in Florida where the order to remove the feeding tube was carried out.
"Sadly, the Terri Schiavo incident is one that is repeated often around the country -- it's not a single, individual case," said Rogers.
"If these things can help anybody come up with a living will, certainly we've done something positive."