Bush Brothers Agree On Schiavo

BushThoughtful: President Bush speaks to media Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003, during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House. AP

President Bush has joined the many disparate voices in the debate over the fate of Terri Schiavo, the 39-year-old brain-damaged woman who has been in what doctors call "a persistent vegetative state" for over a third of her life.

At a White House news conference Tuesday, Mr. Bush said that he believes his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, did the right thing in ordering that Schiavo's feeding tube be restored.

"I believe my brother made the right decision," said President Bush, answering a question on the case which is both a very private anguish for the family and a very public battle over the right to life and the right to die.

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed for six days earlier this month before the Florida Legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush enacted a special law to have it reinserted. That decision added a new element to the Schiavo battle: the question of whether it was constitutional for the legislature and the governor to act after the courts had already ruled.

Terri's husband, Michael, has been fighting for what he says would be her wish to die, while her parents have been fighting for what they say is her right to live.

Monday, Michael Schiavo said his in-laws have set out to block his actions because they initially wanted part of a medical malpractice settlement and more recently because of right-to-life political causes.

In his first interview since the latest round of legal fighting in the highly publicized case, Michael Schiavo said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he continues to fight to end Terri Schiavo's life because her wishes were not to be kept alive artificially.

"He's always wanted the money," Schiavo said of his father-in-law, Bob Schindler. "He wants the money. He wants the control."

Terri's parents have often suggested the same is true of Michael Schiavo and on their web site, terrisfight.org, there is an extensive discussion of the $1.9 million won in Terri Schiavo's malpractice case and the fact that Michael Schiavo is the one who would inherit it when she dies.

Terri Schiavo lapsed into the condition in which she continues back in 1990, when a chemical imbalance triggered by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop and deprived her brain of oxygen.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, believe their daughter could be rehabilitated and do not believe she had any wishes to not be kept on life support.

Terri Schiavo is being treated at a Pinellas Park hospice while her husband's attorney and the American Civil Liberties Union prepare to challenge the constitutionality of "Terri's Law." The first filings in that legal fight are now expected on Wednesday.

Michael Schiavo denied that he has withheld therapy from his wife, saying he once took her to California for an experimental therapy in which a stimulator was implanted in her brain. It didn't work, he said.

He also answered criticism that he has abandoned his wife for a girlfriend with whom he has one child and another on the way. Schiavo said his girlfriend is supportive of his care for Terri Schiavo.

"This is Terri's wish," he said of the removal of the feeding tube. "And I am going to follow that if this is the last thing I can do for Terri," Michael Schiavo said.

  • Francie Grace

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