Another day, another stay in the Terri Schiavo case. On Wednesday, Judge George Greer extended the stay on Michael Schiavo’s plans to remove the tubes that deliver food and water to his brain-damaged wife. It was the second time this week that Terri was given a reprieve.
The interesting thing about the Wednesday court hearing was that Florida’s Department of Children and Families tried to intervene, causing not a little bit of consternation for Judge Greer. The issues may or may not be resolved today, but the recent interest by the press in this story has been alternately overwhelming and infuriating.
A Google search turns up 1,500 related articles. One of the things I noticed while clicking on the odd Schiavo article is that the bloggers’ campaign to challenge claims that she is in a “permanent vegetative state” (i.e., a vegetable) has borne fruit. Reporters are likely to either refer to Terri as “brain damaged” or to report the controversy over her mental state.
For instance, a Washington Post story calls Terri a “brain-damaged woman” in the lede and informs readers that one of the legal hurdles Terri’s parents are trying to throw up involves “new scientific developments [that suggest] she might be ‘minimally conscious,’ rather than in a vegetative state.”
The Post plays the religious aspects of this story relatively straight, except where religion and Jeb Bush collide. We learn that unnamed “bioethicists and constitutional scholars criticized Bush (R) for pushing a law through the Florida legislature that gave him the right to stop Michael Schiavo from removing the feeding tubes,” but we never hear from a bioethicist or law professor on the other side of the issue.
Florida International University law professor Elizabeth Foley allowed that “the state has an unqualified interest in preserving life,” but then qualified that interest by saying “it does seem like the executive branch is trying to circumvent the judiciary.”
Actually, both the legislative and the executive branches are trying to save Terri Schiavo. In 2003 the legislature passed a law that would empower Bush to save Terri, but the justices of Florida’s Supreme Court — who are not known for their humility — decided to override both of the other branches of government. Why the Post didn’t choose to quote an “expert” questioning a judiciary that seems incapable of accepting any limits is beyond me.