Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Tampa Tribune tells us about grandstanding Florida Republicans in Jesus-fish jackboots who are trampling on the right of a lawfully wedded spouse to determine the fate of his comatose wife -- a right affirmed by one court after another:

A state Senate panel Tuesday morning approved legislation that would give Gov. Jeb Bush the power to order the feeding tube removed from Terri Schiavo reinserted.

The full Senate is expected to approve the bill Tuesday evening.

...The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill 68-23 Monday night that would give Bush the authority to order the comatose Schiavo's feeding tube replaced, reversing a judicial order that other judges have upheld. Twenty-eight lawmakers did not vote.

The state Senate is expected to pass the same measure today and send it to Bush, who likely will sign the bill immediately.

As ABC notes,

Schiavo has been at the center of a court battle between her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and her husband, Michael Schiavo. The parents want Terri Schiavo to live, and her husband says she would rather die.

The Florida Supreme Court has twice refused to hear the case, and it also has been rejected for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, a Florida appeals court again refused to block removal of the tube.

But why should due process or legal precedent matter when the far Right wants something? After all, we're dealing with Florida -- it's much easier to rejigger the process and create a one-time exception to the rules, as the Tribune notes:

The bill gives Bush the power to issue a ``one-time'' stay under certain conditions.

All are designed to fit Schiavo's case. Among them, for example, is a requirement that the feeding tube must have been removed as of Oct. 15 - the day Schiavo's tube was removed. Others stipulate that the patient have no written advance directive or living will, and that a family member is actively challenging the judicial orders.

Many other elements familiar to stories of far-Right hardball are present here.

* Character assassination:

The move came just hours after an advocacy group for disabled people pleaded with a federal judge in Tampa to keep Schiavo, 39, alive long enough to investigate a claim that she is being abused by her husband. (Tribune)

* People so far beyond the pale you can't believe they're still allowed in the presence of decent human beings:

Antiabortion activist Randall Terry watched from the House gallery as the legislation passed, 68-23. (Miami Herald)

* People who think advocating theocracy is an excellent career move:

Senate Republicans openly questioned whether House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, was leading the charge in hopes of burnishing his standing with the conservative wing of the party. (Ibid.)

* The use of the right-wing media to try to intimidate dissenters:

A reluctant Senate President Jim King made the first move Monday afternoon, suggesting his chamber would sponsor the legislation, even though King authored right-to-die legislation in the 1980s.

Minutes earlier, Byrd's Senate campaign had sent out a press release touting his upcoming appearance on Fox television's
Hannity & Colmes talk show to ``discuss his plans to save Terri Schiavo.'' (Ibid.)

Get cracking on a living will if you don't have one -- that's what I'm going to do. You don't want yahoos like these deciding your fate if anything awful happens to you.

(UPDATE: I fixed the name of the Tampa paper -- my apologies)

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