The US Supreme Court refused today to reinstate a Florida law passed to keep a severely brain-damaged woman hooked to a feeding tube, clearing the way for it to be removed.
The Florida Supreme Court had struck down the law in the autumn, and justices were the last hope for state leaders in a bitter long running dispute over the fate of Terri Schiavo, 40
Her husband, Michael Schiavo, contends she never wanted to be kept alive artificially. But her parents told justices that their son-in-law is trying to rush her death so he can inherit her estate and be free to marry another woman.
The Supreme Court did not comment in rejecting an appeal from Governor Jeb Bush, who argued the state had the authority to step in and pass the 2003 law that ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted six days after her husband had it removed.
Terri Schiavo has lived in nursing homes. She can breathe on her own but depends on a feeding tube to stay alive because she cannot swallow on her own.
In dispute are whether she is in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of recovery, and if she had said before her illness that she did not want to be kept alive by machines.
Lawyer Robert Destro, representing the state, told judges to consider “the most vulnerable of our citizens who cannot speak for themselves”.
Michael Shiavo did not file any arguments with the court, but his lawyer had accused Florida leaders of engaging in delaying tactics to prevent Terri Schiavo from carrying out her right to die.
Terri Schiavo collapsed from a chemical imbalance due to an eating disorder 14 years ago and left no written directive.