Monday, March 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo Update

After a flurry of political activity in the wee hours of Monday morning, The United States Congress passed a private bill for the relief of Terri Schiavo's parents. Leaving aside (for the moment) the wisdom of such congressional action, and its constitutionality, the bill seeks to endow federal courts with jurisdiction to hear the merits of this case.

President Bush, who currently is engaged in running a war in Iraq, is facing the largest federal budget deficit ever, and is also trying to persuade America to change social security, rushed back to Washington to sign this historic legislation. Shortly thereafter, Terri Schiavo's parents filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order, declaratory judgment, and permanent injunctive relief, in a Florida federal district court.

As I watched the congressional debate last evening, I was struck by how little most of the congressmen had any grasp of the facts surrounding the case, its trip through the Florida judicial system, and the medical issues in the case. Before begining their debate Congress should have read A REPORT TO GOVERNOR JEB BUSH AND THE 6TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN THE MATTER OF THERESA MARIE SCHIAVO by Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD, Guardian Ad Litem for Theresa Marie Schiavo 1 December 2003. It provides an excellent factual recitation of this case, its history, and a review of the medical issues involved. It is a must read for those who really want to know more about the facts of this tragic case.

At 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Judge James D. Whittemore of the federal district court heard arguments from both sides. He has not ruled either on the merits of the case, or on the request for a temporary order to reinstate the feeding tube; however, Judge Whittemore expressed reservations about the legal arguments advanced by Ms. Schiavo's parents.

Once a ruling has been issued, I will post it here, and further analyze the court's holding.

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