Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The founder of a well-known pro-life activist group is asking Florida's governor to intervene in the case of a disabled woman there whose feeding tube will be removed Wednesday, eventually causing her death by starvation and dehydration.
Randall Terry, creator of Operation Rescue, said Monday that he will hold a 24-hour-a-day vigil outside the hospice where Terri Schindler Schiavo is being kept until the matter is resolved, one way or another.
"Anybody who is within driving distance and is sympathetic to Terri's plight, we urge them to please come and join us in this vigil," Terry told CNSNews.com. "And we will stay there until Gov. Bush intervenes and saves her life or until they are successful in murdering her."
Terry believes Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush "has several options at his disposal as the chief executive officer of the state.
"He has shown his sympathy with Terri because he filed a brief in federal court on her behalf," Terry recalled. "Justice was denied there, and so, we're just going to encourage him to use one of the options at his disposal and intervene to save her life."
As CNSNews.com previously reported, U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara dismissed an Aug. 30 civil rights lawsuit filed by the Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, seeking to gain guardianship of their daughter. The dismissal cleared the way for Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, to remove Terri's gastrostomy or "g-tube," through which she receives nutrition and hydration.
Terry: State agency should block judge's order from being carried out
Terry hopes Gov. Bush will instruct the Fla. Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to intervene on Terri's behalf.
"They have jurisdiction in a case like this anytime they want it. And he is, obviously, the de facto head of the DCF[S]," Terry explained. "He could simply order them, 'Go and get her.'"
Fla. statute Title III, Chapter 415, Section 105 (2) gives the DCFS the power to perform an "emergency protective services intervention" if the state has "reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult is suffering from abuse or neglect that presents a risk of death or serious physical injury to the vulnerable adult and that the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to emergency protective services."
Later in that same statute, the DCFS is also given emergency powers to forcibly enter a private premise and to remove a "vulnerable adult" - who cannot give consent for treatment or ask for help - from the location if an investigator "has reason to believe that the situation presents a risk of death or serious physical injury."
Later in the Fla. statutes, Title 46, Chapter 825, Section 102 (3)(a) declares "neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult" to be a criminal act. "Neglect" is defined as:
"A caregiver's failure or omission to provide an elderly person or disabled adult with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the elderly person's or disabled adult's physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the elderly person or disabled adult."
The statute makes no readily apparent allowance for judges, legal guardians or other officers of the court to issue orders to the contrary.
Terry believes those statutes both justify and give Gov. Bush the power to prevent Terri's death.
"We know that he has a heart on behalf of Terri," the Operation Rescue founder said. "The question is, does he have the will?"
Bush's office: 'There is a process in place;' situation 'being handled by the courts'
Alia Faraj, Gov. Bush's press secretary, told CNSNews.com Monday afternoon that Terry appears to be misinterpreting the law.
"He may be reading accurate statutes but, I think, that they have to apply to the appropriate situations," Faraj explained. "We are talking about something that is being handled by the courts, and there is a process in place, and it's in the courts' hands right now."
Faraj explained that Bush has already followed the legal channels to try to intervene on Terri's behalf.
"The governor did file an amicus [friend of the court] brief in federal court last week," Faraj said. "Obviously, the federal court basically struck everything down, and it still stands in Judge Greer's court."
Pinellas-Pasco County, Fla., Circuit Judge George Greer is the probate judge handling Terri's case. Greer set the Oct. 15 date to terminate Terri's nutrition and hydration on Sept. 17, while the Schindlers' federal lawsuit was still pending. Bush had also written Greer asking him to appoint an independent guardian ad litem for Terri. Greer refused the governor's request.
"The governor, more than any other state official, has a responsibility to take care that the laws are faithfully executed and to give a voice to the citizens of the state," Faraj explained. "We want to make clear to everybody out there that there is a separation of powers, the governor has the highest respect for the independence of our courts, and he will continue to honor that independence."
Parents issue plea to husband, cite possible motive for pursuit of Terri's death
Terry disputed the contention by some doctors and circulated by the establishment media that Terri Schindler Schiavo is comatose or in a "persistent vegetative state," as is required by Florida law to receive court-ordered approval to stop nutrition and hydration
"This gal is not in a coma. She's not in a vegetative state," Terry argued. "She is just severely disabled, and if she had been allowed to have the standard protocol for rehabilitation, she'd be way better than she is right now."
Three former caregivers and Terri's parents have accused her husband of denying Terri therapy and rehabilitation services needed to recover from her injury. Although the husband's attorney, George Felos, has refused to speak with CNSNews.com since Sept. 16, he previously denied the allegations.
The Schindlers issued a joint statement with Terry in which they supported his assessment of their daughter's condition.
"We love our daughter very much, and we want her home," the Schindlers wrote. "Over the last 13 years, Terri has laughed with us, cried with us, talked with us and even tried to get out of her chair.
"The accusations that Terri is in a coma or is a 'vegetable' are a lie," the Schindlers added.
They also hinted at one possible reason they believe their son-in-law has been so persistent in his attempts to end the life of their daughter.
"We beg Michael Schiavo, and those working with him to end our daughter's life, to let her come home to her family," the Schindlers wrote. "We will sign any agreement you want, giving you all monies related to Terri's collapse and any insurance money that may be forthcoming.
"You take the money," Teri's parents concluded. "We just want our daughter."
If Terri Schindler Schiavo's gastrostomy/feeding tube is removed Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. (Eastern) as ordered by Judge Greer, doctors estimate that it will take approximately 10 days to two weeks for her to die either from dehydration, starvation or a combination of the two. Doctors have conflicting opinions about exactly how much pain Terri might suffer during that process.
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