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Schiavo court orders don't mention "feeding tubes"

by arthur Weinreb, associate Editor,
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It is hard to think of a situation in recent times, with the exception of the events of September 11, 2001, that has drawn as much attention as the plight of 41-year-old Terri Schiavo. at the time of this writing, the appellate court in atlanta, by a vote of 2 to 1, voted not to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, and the family is moving to appeal that decision to the supreme court.

In the current round of legal proceedings, constant references are being made, both by the media and others, about the "feeding tube" that was keeping her alive. It is constantly being said that the feeding tube has been removed and the argument, both in Congress and the courts is whether or not the tube should be reinserted to allow Schiavo to continue to live.

But none of the decisions of the courts make any mention of "a feeding tube". For example, the last decision that was made by Judge George W. Greer of the Circuit Court of Pinellas County, Florida, on February 25 that led to the last removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, read in part as follows:

"Therefore it is… ORDERED aND aDJUDGED that absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, MICHaEL SCHIaVO, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, THERESa SCHIaVO, at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2005." [Emphasis added]

The court order doesn't just require that the feeding tube be removed — it orders that Terri Schiavo be deprived of all food and water.

The decision of the Florida court is not the equivalent of "pulling the plug". If someone needs mechanical assistance to breathe and the ventilator is removed, it is not unusual for some patients to start to breathe on their own. To compare the situation that Terri Schiavo is in with someone who is on a ventilator would be the equivalent of the ventilator being removed, the person starting to breathe on their own and then requiring that they be smothered because the court has ordered that they not be given any air. What is truly amazing is that there has been virtually no mention in the massive media coverage about the prohibition against all food and water. all that is discussed is the feeding tube. reported earlier this week about a nurse, Heidi Law, who swore an affidavit back in 1997. Law, a certified nursing assistant who had been one of Schiavo's caregivers, swore under oath that on occasion Terri could swallow water and eat small amounts of Jell-o. Law also swore that Schiavo used to respond positively when ice cubes or juice was put on a washcloth and held over her lips. The nursing assistant also stated that these "feedings" of Terri had to be done surreptitiously and infrequently because Michael Schiavo would not allow it if he knew about it.

Either Terri Schiavo can eat and drink or she can't. If she can, then she really isn't in any different position than a quadriplegic who can eat but needs assistance to get the food and water into their mouth. and if she really cannot eat and drink enough to keep her alive, what possible harm could be done by allowing little bits of soft food and water into her mouth?

This case goes a lot further than situations where people are being kept alive by mechanical means and those means are disconnected, allowing the person to die a natural death. The Florida court's order that all nutrition and hydration be removed from Terri Schiavo is nothing short of barbaric.

Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod