CBSN

Jeb Bush Sued In Feeding Tube Case

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (left) and Michael Schiavo (right), the husband of Terri Schiavo, a coma patient who Michael says would not wish to be kept alive by extraordinary means. Her parents take the opposite point of view and have had the support of Gov. Bush in their long-running legal battle with their son-in-law.
AP
A brain-damaged woman kept alive for years over the objection of her husband has been "stripped of her most intimate personal rights," his lawyer said in papers filed Monday with the state Supreme Court.

Michael Schiavo, the husband of Terri Schiavo, has sued Gov. Jeb Bush over "Terri's Law," a measure Bush pushed through the Legislature in October after Schiavo removed the feeding tube keeping his wife alive.

Terri Schiavo had gone six days without food or water and was in the process of dying when the governor ordered her feedings resumed.

Schiavo is challenging the law keeping the 40-year-old woman alive.

"Mrs. Schiavo is more akin to subjects of an absolute dictatorship than citizens of a democratic state," the written arguments by Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said. "Nothing could be more repugnant to the Florida Constitution."

A spokesman for Bush said Monday the governor's office had not yet seen the filing and could not comment. Felos did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Arguments are scheduled before the Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 31.

Terri Schiavo has depended on the feeding tube to keep her alive for more than a decade after collapsing from a chemical imbalance. Michael Schiavo said his wife, who left no written living will, would have never wanted to be kept alive artificially.

But her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say their daughter had no such death wish and persuaded Bush and the Florida Legislature to intervene.

"Terri's Law" was declared unconstitutional by a Pinellas Circuit Court judge who accepted Michael Schiavo's arguments that it violates his wife's privacy right and the separation of powers between Florida's branches of government.

Bush's attorneys say the law is constitutional because it provides an extra layer of protection for the disabled. The governor also argues that the Pinellas court should not have struck down "Terri's Law" without first holding a trial where Bush's attorneys could question Michael Schiavo.

In Monday's filing, Felos said Bush made Mrs. Schiavo's wishes "legally irrelevant" by substituting his own will for her right to have made private medical decisions for herself.

"A hundred juries could determine Mrs. Schiavo's wishes, yet in every instance the governor is free to ignore those wishes," Felos wrote.

Bush attorney Ken Connor has said many issues need resolution before Michael Schiavo should be allowed to remove the tube, including why he never mentioned his wife's wishes during a malpractice trial where the couple was awarded more than $700,000 to care for Terri Schiavo until the end of her natural life.

Also at issue, the governor contends, is whether there is hope for Terri Schiavo's condition to improve through rehabilitation. Some medical experts have concluded she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery, but her parents and other doctors disagree.

By Vickie Chachere