House Leaders Offer Last-Minute Rescue Plan for Terri

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Both the House and the Senate have passed bills that might save Terri Schindler Schiavo, but the different versions of the legislation have not been reconciled and probably won't be until next month -- too late to save the brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube is supposed to be disconnected today.

But House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay announced a backup plan early Friday morning.

They said the Committee on Government Reform has launched an inquiry into the long-term care of incapacitated adults, and as part of that inquiry, the committee will issue a subpoena Friday morning requiring doctors to keep Terri's feeding tube connected.

That will give Congress time "to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive," the lawmakers said in a statement.

"This inquiry should give hope to Terri, her parents and friends, and the millions of people throughout the world who are praying for her safety. This fight is not over," the lawmakers said.

Another Republican, Rep. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, reportedly has subpoenaed Terri herself to appear before his Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee.

According to the Drudge Report, a subpoena confers statutory protections on the witness, meaning that person cannot be harmed or killed.

But an attorney for Terri's parents was quoted as calling the last-minute actions a "long-shot."

President Bush issued a statement on Thursday, noting that Terri's case raises complex issues: "Yet in instances like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life. Those who live at the mercy of others deserve our special care and concern. It should be our goal as a nation to build a culture of life, where all Americans are valued, welcomed, and protected and that culture of life must extend to individuals with disabilities," the statement said.

In other developments, the National Right to Life Committee is urging all pro-life Americans to contact their senators and representatives: "Urge them to do whatever is necessary to resolve the differences between the chambers and get a bill that will save Terri Schiavo to the president's desk before it is too late," the group said in a statement earlier on Thursday.

The legislation pending in Congress would allow federal courts to review cases like Terri's, where incapacitated people face the prospect of having their life support removed and state courts have said all they're going to say.

Hundreds of protestors reportedly are planning to gather outside Terri's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., on Friday, as the 1 p.m. deadline nears.