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Schiavo Case: Court rules - no guardian

The distressing case of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the centre of a right-to-life debate in Florida is in the news again. The Chief Judge has rejected the Governor's request that an independent guardian continue to work on behalf of Mrs Schiavo.

The judge has questioned the constitutionality of the law which granted the independent guardian in the first place.

Catholic World News reports:

Dr. Jay Wolfson, the former court-appointed guardian for Schiavo, was dismissed from his charge late last year after submitting a nearly 40-page report of his findings in the case to [Governor Jeb] Bush. Wolfson summarized ten years of litigation in the case and recommended that Terri undergo swallowing tests and therapy. He noted that since she does not drool and therefore swallows 2 to 2.5 liters of saliva per day, like most adults, she should be able to swallow liquids and could be taught to swallow solid food.

Gov. Bush wanted an independent guardian to continue working on Terri's behalf, because her husband wants her feeding tube removed in order that she be given her "right to die".

Schiavo's parents argue that their daughter deserves an independent guardian, because of her husband Michael's conflict of interest - he is engaged to be married to a woman he already has children with. In 1998, Michael revealed a claim that Terri asked for the "right to die" - eight years after she had already been hospitalized for the coma she is still in.

Schiavo's feeding tube was removed in October for six days before Bush and the Florida Legislature stepped in to have the tube reinserted and a guardian appointed.

The CWN story also reports: "Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville has introduced Senate Bill 692, which would prohibit courts from ordering withdrawal of food and water from mentally incompetent patients in Florida who have not specified such orders in advance directives."

CWN - Florida court rules: No guardian for Schiavo

15 Jan 2004