Gov. Jeb Bush Must Do More, Terri's Advocates Say

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Gov. Jeb Bush is being compared to Pontius Pilate as he comes under intensive pressure from religious and pro-life groups to do whatever it takes to save Terri Schiavo's life.

The groups that are pressuring Gov. Bush commend him for all he has done so far on Terri's behalf. But it hasn't worked -- and they say there is more that he can do.

Dr. D. James Kennedy, the president of Coral Ridge Ministries, said that as governor, Jeb Bush is the only legal authority who can stop Terri from starving.

"He must act and he must act immediately on her behalf. He must disregard the order of Judge Greer. He has both the authority and the duty to do so under the state constitution," Kennedy said in a press release.

Kennedy noted that Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution says, "All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law, and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life..."

It also says "no person shall be deprived of any right because of ... physical disability." That includes the right to enjoy life, Kennedy said.

As governor, Jeb Bush has the "'supreme executive power' and the constitutional duty as stated in Article IV, Section 1, to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'"

Kennedy said Gov. Bush may not disregard that obligation, even if a member of the judiciary has ordered otherwise. "He is not bound by a court order that is at odds with a constitutional guarantee," Kennedy said.

"Jeb Bush must choose between the clear mandate of Florida's constitution and a judiciary which, in this case, has acted in defiance of that state supreme law. After all this time of praying, petitioning, and lobbying, it comes down to this," Kennedy said.

Pontius Pilate

A pro-life group called Crossroads agrees that Gov. Bush has done a great deal on Terri's behalf.

"But how will history remember him if Terri dies? Likely, as a weak, moral coward, who did not have the courage to save a helpless, dying woman from those who so vehemently wished to take her life," the group said in a press release.

Crossroads noted that nearly 2000 years ago this week, Pontius Pilate "stood by and did nothing in the face of determined evil as it took the life" of one innocent man."

Pilate simply lacked the moral courage that is occasionally demanded of one who governs, Crossroads said.

The group said Pilate was not filled with hate -- but in the end, he "chose not to risk his office to save the 'insignificant' [Christ]."

Crossroads said Bush must ask himself, "Is one helpless woman's life worth my political career?'"

"As of this writing, the tribunals have spoken against an innocent, helpless woman, and an angry, hate-filled mob has gathered to mock and ridicule those praying for a miracle near to where Terri Schiavo lies in her fatal agony," Crossroad said.

"And her mother, Mary, must suffer the contempt of those who are determined to see her child unjustly condemned to death. Now it is in the hands of the governor, the man who will ultimately choose either to wield the temporal powers of his office to save innocent life, or 'wash his hands' of her."

Jeb Bush said on Thursday he understands that people are "acting on their heart, and I fully appreciate their sentiments and the emotions that go with this."

But, he added, "I've consistently said that I cannot go beyond what my powers are - and I'm not going to do it."

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