March 18, 2005
House Committee to issue subpoenas to keep Terry Schiavo aliveTopics: Legislative Action Items
USAToday - In a last-ditch effort to save Terri Schiavo's life, a House committee plans to issue subpoenas Friday to stop doctors from removing the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube.
The extraordinary legislative maneuver comes after the House and Senate failed to agree on legislation to keep the woman alive before leaving Washington for their spring break. House officials hope that the subpoenas will stop doctors from removing Schiavo's feeding tube at 1 p.m. ET Friday.
"We will issue a subpoena which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow Congress to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis said in a statement. "The subpoena will be joined by a Senate investigation as well.
"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 subpoenas from the House Government Reform Committee, which spent most of Thursday hearing from baseball players and officials about steroids, is the latest twist in the long-running right-to-die drama.
The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected on Thursday attempts by Schiavo's parents and the state to postpone the removal of her feeding tube and Florida lawmakers could not agree to legislation that would have stopped the removal of the feeding tube.
The House and Senate also could not come to an agreement on legislation to deal with the Schiavo case, although Republicans and Democrats spent much of the day talking behind closed doors trying to come up with a solution.
"We've been going nonstop on this all day long," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said before the House announcement, which came after midnight. "Letters are being written and sent out. We're not giving up and we're not going to give up."
It was not immediately known what effect the subpoenas will have on Friday, when the court order to remove the feeding tube takes effect. "We feel that we're on comfortable ground given the federal government's interest in long-term care," Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said Friday morning.
Earlier, David Gibbs, attorney for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had said: "Everything is a long shot."
Gibbs said that he would ask a federal judge in a habeas corpus filing Friday in Tampa to block the removal and review the actions of state courts. Such appeals are most commonly used in death penalty cases when legal appeals have been exhausted; they require the government to justify its actions.
"We are going to ask him to issue a stay because in this case, state action would be used to end the life of an innocent, disabled woman," Gibbs said.
The Florida attorney general's office usually defends the state against habeas filings. A call to the office late Thursday seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance, and court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, says she told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents dispute that, and say she could get better.
"It would be such a horrible tragedy for Terri to have this delayed again," said George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo. "Either Terri's rights and wishes are going to be carried out tomorrow at 1 p.m. or there is going to be another unconstitutional intervention."
Doctors have said it could take a week or two for Schiavo to die once the tube that delivers water and nutrients is removed.
Republican Gov. Jeb Bush has strongly urged the Legislature to pass a bill that would save Schiavo, as it did in 2003. That law allowed Bush to order doctors to restore Schiavo's feeding tube six days after it had been removed. But that law was later declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
Bush acknowledged Thursday that state legislation to intervene was halted.
"The bill is certainly not dead, but it does appear that they're having some difficulty," he said. "I'm just disappointed, but that's their decision."
The state Senate could consider the House version of the bill on Friday, but the bill's sponsor in the upper chamber, Republican Sen. Daniel Webster, suggested there was so little support that he might withdraw it.
"I can count votes," Webster said.
In Washington, both the House and Senate passed bills to move the case to federal court, but the effort stalled over differences between House Republicans and members of both parties in the Senate over how sweeping it should be. Schiavo's parents and brother spent the day in the Capitol lobbying lawmakers to pass some kind of legislation.
House Republicans insisted that federal courts be given jurisdiction in similar cases questioning the legality of withholding food or medical treatment from people incapacitated like Schiavo. The Senate limited its bill to the Schiavo case only.
By the time senators passed their legislation Thursday, many House members already had headed home for Easter and each side sought to blame the other for the stalemate.
The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, denied a request from Schiavo's parents to stop the removal of the feeding tube so lower courts could consider whether their daughter's religious freedom and other rights have been violated.
The state Department of Children & Families had requested a delay in the removal of the feeding tube while the agency investigates allegations Terri Schiavo was abused, but Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, an appeals court and the state Supreme Court denied the request Thursday.
The White House was cautious Thursday not to comment on any specific legislation. Yet in a statement, President Bush left little doubt where he stands.
"The case of Terri Schiavo raises complex issues," he said. "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."
Posted by tim at March 18, 2005 12:58 AM
Articles Related to Legislative Action Items:
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference House Committee to issue subpoenas to keep Terry Schiavo alive:
» Will Terri be the sacraficial lamb? from MoFiZiX Gr4FiX
Tracked on March 18, 2005 1:50 AM
Tracked on March 18, 2005 9:52 AM
» It is Fast and Furious To Save Terri from Blogotional
Tracked on March 18, 2005 12:24 PM
» Perhaps a Pajamahadeen Anthem? from Crystal Clear
Tracked on March 18, 2005 1:42 PM