Washington DC, Mar. 09, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, U.S. Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL), and Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) introduced a piece of legislation which many hope could save brain-damaged Terri Schiavo’s life.
According to Weldon’s office, House Bill 1151, the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act would “explicitly clarify fundamental due process rights for those who are incapacitated, are under court ordered removal of nutrition and hydration and have no written advanced medical directive in effect.”
If passed, the bill would give the family of 41-year old Schiavo access to a federal court to argue for their daughter’s life.
Florida judge George Greer ruled February 25th in favor of Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, who has been trying for years remove the feeding tube, which gives food and hydration to his wife.
Lori Kehoe, Congressional liaison for the National Right to Life told CNA that she is encouraged by yesterday’s introduction of the bill.
Basically, she said, “[representatives] fell into one of two categories: those who were extremely supportive of the bill and those who were very ambivalent and didn’t really know all the facts.”
Kehoe said that it was very powerful for the representatives to meet Schiavo’s parents and “to have to look into their eyes and see that this is a human being, not just another test case.”
She noted that one of the few harsh reactions came from Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) who “looked right at [Schiavo’s brother] and said ‘that’s not life…how long has she been in that coma and how much is it costing us?’”
“It was really bad”, Kehoe noted.
Bob Schindler, Terri’s brother who also spoke with CNA this morning said that, “the secular media has really miscalculated [his] sister’s condition…and has really dehumanized her.”
In response to Representative Johnson’s comments to him yesterday, Schindler noted that, “she had already made up her mind and didn’t want to listen to me.”
While he tried to point out that his sister was not on life support or in a coma, he observed that Johnson “didn’t really know anything about the case and didn’t want to hear it.”
Notwithstanding Johnson’s comments, Kehoe has high hopes for the new bill. She noted positive reactions from some senators who she said “are usually very hard.”
“The most difficult part now,” she said, “ is the time line.”
Judge Greer set a date of March 18th for Terri’s feeding tube to be removed, an act which will effectively end her life.
“It will be difficult but doable”, Kehoe added, “We’re just praying that this moves fast.”