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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 15:20 GMT
Court challenge in right to die case
File photo of Terri Schiavo
Doctors say Terri is in a persistent vegetative state
Lawyers for a US man battling his severely brain-damaged wife's parents over her right to die have asked a Florida court to strike down a law passed to keep her alive.

Michael Schiavo filed papers at the court alleging the law, which enabled state Governor Jeb Bush to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube be reinserted after it was removed by an earlier ruling, is unconstitutional.

Mr Schiavo says his wife did not want to be kept alive artificially but her parents insist she could be rehabilitated.

Terri Schiavo, 39, has been incapacitated and kept alive artificially since she collapsed at home in 1990.

'Agonising decisions'

The legislation, now known as "Terri's Law", was passed only last week after being introduced following an appeal by Mrs Schiavo's parents.

Why [does] Mr Schiavo fight so hard to keep Terri from having any sort of therapy? What is he hiding? What could it hurt?
Terri Schiavo's parents, Mary and Bob Schindler
The decision caused controversy in the southern state, with some lawmakers questioning whether it amounted to an invasion of rights and privacy.

Rights group the American Civil Liberties Union, which is aiding Mr Schiavo's case, described it as "a dangerous abuse of power... [which] should concern everyone who may face difficult and agonising decisions involving the medical condition of a family member".

US President George W Bush, brother of the Florida governor, has also entered the fierce debate, saying he felt his sibling made "the right decision".

But the case is considered so contentious the Florida Supreme Court has twice declined to take on the case and the US Supreme Court has also refused to become involved.

Media controversy

On Wednesday Mrs Schiavo's parents also reacted with anger after Mrs Schiavo's husband publicly questioned their motives for keeping his wife alive.

Mr Schiavo told US news channel CNN that Mrs Schiavo's father had repeatedly asked for money ever since he won substantial compensation from a medical malpractice suit he filed on his wife's behalf several years ago.

Mary and Bob Schindler denied the allegations and said Mr Schiavo had provided no therapy or rehabilitation for their daughter, whom doctors describe as being in a persistent vegetative state.

"Why [does] Mr Schiavo fight so hard to keep Terri from having any sort of therapy - especially speech therapy - that would wean her off her feeding tube?" they said in a statement.

"What is he hiding? What could it hurt?"

They also alleged that most of the compensation from the malpractice suit had been spent on legal fees resulting from Mr Schiavo's battles to have their daughter's feeding tube removed.

Mrs Schiavo's parents also dismissed claims they had accepted money from conservative "right-to-life" groups, saying only donations from individuals were accepted.

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22 Oct 03  |  Have Your Say

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