Conservatives Urge Governor To Intervene In Schiavo Case

Jeb Bush Says He Can't Overrule Courts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The fight to keep a severely brain-damaged Tampa-area woman alive expanded across the state Thursday, as advocates stepped up the pressure on Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene in the case Thursday.

The feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive was removed Wednesday, culminating a decade-long legal fight between her parents and her husband. Doctors say she will live as long as two weeks without it.

Advocates for Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, sent the governor legal opinions Thursday co-signed by Richard Thompson, chief counsel at the conservative Thomas More Law Center who formerly prosecuted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian in Michigan.

The letter maintains that Bush could legally intervene to order a criminal investigation into whether Terri Schiavo may have been abused at some point by her husband, Michael Schiavo, who has always denied such charges.

Bush has promised Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, that his staff would continue to search for legal avenues that could save her life but that he doesn't have the authority to overrule the courts. State courts have consistently affirmed Michael Schiavo's legal right to remove his wife's feeding tube.

While attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a Jacksonville aerospace manufacturing facility Thursday, protestors gathered, holding signs that read "Save Terri."

Bush expressed his concern with the way things are going, but said there's no legal basis to overturn the judge's ruling.

"We have to be respectful of the judiciary," Bush said. "I can be critical. I can express my opinions, as I've done. But ... when I was elected, I put my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the law."

Terri Schiavo has been in a vegetative state since 1990, when her heart stopped because of what doctors said may have been a chemical imbalance.

Her husband says he is carrying out his wife's wishes that she not be kept alive artificially. Her parents believe she responds to them and could benefit from therapy.

George Felos, the attorney for Michael Schiavo, planned an afternoon news conference to comment on the attorneys' letters.

Thompson's letter urged Bush to open a criminal investigation in to Terri Schiavo's treatment, repeating her parents' suspicions about broken bones discovered during a routine checkup in the 1990s and citing Michael Schiavo's relationship with another woman.

Both the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have declined to pursue investigations, saying there is no physical evidence of abuse, the fractures have been attributed to brittle bone disease and even if a crime had been committed, the statute of limitations has expired.

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