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Husband of Brain-Damaged Woman Tries to Bar Parents

November 04, 2003|From Associated Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Attorneys for the husband of a severely brain-damaged woman filed court papers Monday seeking to have her parents excluded from a legal battle over a hastily passed state law that empowered Gov. Jeb Bush to keep her alive.

Lawyers for Michael Schiavo contend that the law violates the state constitution because it infringes on his wife, Terri Schiavo's, right to privacy and the constitution's separation of power provisions.

The special law passed by the Legislature last month allowed the governor to order that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube -- which has kept her alive for more than a decade -- be reinserted six days after her husband had ordered it removed.

Michael Schiavo has been battling in court for years to carry out what he says is his wife's wish not to be kept alive artificially.

His wife's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought him, saying their daughter had no such wishes and is not in a permanent vegetative state, as a probate judge has declared.

The woman's parents say she is responsive and could improve with therapy.

The Schindlers have filed documents seeking a judge's permission to become parties in their son-in-law's challenge to the new law.

Michael Schiavo's attorneys contend that although the Schindlers arguably have a stake in the battle, the legal challenge of what has been dubbed "Terri's Law" is between her husband and attorneys for the governor.

Doctors and a judge have ruled that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

She suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped beating -- cutting off oxygen to her brain -- because of a chemical imbalance.

Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird would have to grant permission for the Schindlers to enter the lawsuit.

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