18-March-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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Clearwater, Florida, Mar. 18 (CWNews.com) - A Florida judge on Friday reinstated his order that a feeding tube for disabled woman Terri Schiavo be removed less than an hour after that order was suspended . The decisions came after Congress subpoenaed Schiavo, her husband Michael Schiavo, her parents Bob & Mary Schindler, and two of her doctors. By 3:20 pm Terri's tube had been removed by doctors at the hospice where she now lives, and she was expected to starve to death within a week or two.

Although it was unlikely Terri would have been able to attend any congressional hearings, the subpoenas make it a federal offense to tamper with a person who is the recipient of such an order. As a congressional witness, Terri is the beneficiary of many legal protections that would include preventing the removal of her feeding tube. Whether legal action will be taken against those who removed her tube or ordered it done is unknown as this time. "This inquiry should give hope to Terri, her parents and friends, and the millions of people throughout the world who are praying for her safety," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Government Reform committee chairman Tom Davis said in a joint statement when the subpoenas were announced. "This fight is not over."

Judge George Greer, who has been overseeing Terri's case, reinstated his order to remove Terri's feeding tube less than an hour after the order was lifted. She had been scheduled to have the tube removed at 1 pm on Friday on instruction from her husband. Greer said Congress had overstepped its bounds, that it is federal interference in a state matter, legislative overstepping of the separation of powers, and that the case has long been decided in his court.

The matter will likely be decided in the federal courts, and perhaps in the US Supreme Court. But until that time, Terri is without any nutrition and is slowly starving to death.

The congressional subpoenas followed failures in Washington and in Florida to pass laws to protect Terri from removal of the feeding tube. The Florida Senate had opposed a bill that would have prevented feeding tubes from being removed from people unless they had left clear instructions and left for an Easter recess without taking up the bill.

In the US Senate, opposition by some Democrats put a halt to efforts to pass the Incapacitated Persons Protection Act, which had earlier pass the House. Congressional Republican leaders vowed to continue to press for passage of the bill. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay also said he hoped Judge Greer would modify his court orders to allow the recipients of the subpoenas, including Terri, to attend Capitol Hill hearings on March 28, so the world could see that Terri is indeed alive.

"She's not barely alive, she's not being kept alive. She is alive," DeLay said.

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