After watching Terri Schiavo struggle to stay alive for thirteen days without food and water, the Eleventh Circuit appellate court has finally decided that she may have some rights to due process after all. The court agreed to hear the Schindlers’ appeal to reinstate her feeding tube in a dramatic thirteenth-hour development:
A federal appeals court early Wednesday agreed to consider a petition by Terri Schiavo’s parents for a new hearing on whether to reconnect their severely brain-damaged daughter’s feeding tube.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled without comment on Schiavo’s 12th day without nourishment. Last week, the same court twice ruled against Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are trying to keep her alive. …
[T]he court will consider the request for a new hearing, rather than whether previous Florida court rulings have met legal standards under state law, which is what federal courts have done in the case until now.
I presume the basis of this appeal pertains to the emergency law passed by Congress demanding a de novo approach to the case in federal court, a law that Judge Whittemore completely disregarded in his action. The appellate court should have taken this up the last time it heard this case, but took the same approach as Whittemore did — to insist on Judge Greer’s finding of fact in defiance of Congress’ clear intent.
Accepting the appeal at this point is certainly a welcome development, but it also comes late in the day for Terri. They may order her rehydration, but without a doubt even if that started this hour, they’ve damaged her by their incomprehensible inaction and defiance of Congress. They allowed a non-terminal woman to suffer severe neglect with the intention of killing her based on the recollection of off-hand comments made years earlier to her estranged husband and two of his relatives.
Let’s hope they get it right this time, and quickly.
UPDATE: John Hawkins has a FAQ on the Schiavo case which people should read.
UPDATE II: The Eleventh Circuit has turned down the Schindlers’ appeal en banc:
A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday rejected a last-minute request from the parents of brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo for a rehearing on a petition to reconnect their dying daughter’s feeding tube.
A three-judge panel at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta had last week rejected an appeal by parents Bob and Mary Schindler against a Florida court ruling denying them an order to have feeding resumed.
The court on Wednesday denied a request by the parents for the full court of 12 judges to review that ruling, the court said.
So apparently the Schindlers requested the en banc hearing, which was approved for submittal, only for the purposes of having the entire 11th Circuit reject the request on its merits. One wonders why the court accepted the submittal at all.