Terri Schiavo's Parents File Memo Citing 'Substantial Change' in Case

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Attorneys for the parents of a brain-damaged Florida woman have filed a memorandum of law establishing that depriving her of food and water would be against her wishes and prohibited by the U.S. and state Constitutions, as well as Florida statutory and common law.

Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, is fighting to have her feeding tube removed, claiming that she did not want to be kept alive through artificial means and her right to privacy would be violated if she is kept alive this way.

The 28-page memorandum cites a "substantial change in circumstances that the court must consider" in determining whether to set aside a February 2000 order that Terri's life be ended through starvation.

The new circumstances directly involve Terri's lifelong religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic and her fundamental right to freedom of religious belief and expression.

Lawyers for Terri's parents Bob and Mary Schindler say given a "significant development" in the church's moral teaching that patients in a so-called "persistent vegetative state" should be provided food and water, the court's 2000 decision that Terri would choose to end her life can no longer stand.

In a March 20, 2004 address, Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church, said, "I should like particularly to underline how the administration of food and water, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use...should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory..."

The Schindler attorneys say given the "overwhelming evidence of Terri's life-long faith and devotion to the Church - which she proclaimed only hours before her collapse - she would never willingly defy the Holy Father's teaching by consenting to conduct that is now morally forbidden by the Church."

See Earlier Story:
Gov. Bush Orders Disabled Fla. Woman's Feedings Resumed (Oct. 21, 2003)

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