Ragged Edge 





Feb., '05
Jan., '05
Dec., '04
Nov., '04
Oct., '04
Sept., '04
August, '04
July, '04
June, '04
May, '04
Apr., '04
Mar., '04
Feb., '04
Jan., '04
Dec., '03
Nov., '03
Oct., '03
Sept., '03
August, '03
July, '03
June, '03
May, '03
April, '03
March, '03
Feb., '03
Jan., '03
Dec., '02
Nov., '02
Oct., '02
Sept., '02
August, '02
July, '02
June, '02
May, '02
April, '02
Mar., '02
Feb., '02
Jan., '02
Dec., '01
Nov., '01
Oct., '01
Sept., '01

Breaking News Ticker  |  Yahoo Full Coverage on disabilities

A Year After Hospital Ordeal, Baby Aiden's Grandmother Will Assume Custody
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

MANSFIELD, OH, MAR 28, 2005-- Permanent custody of 16-month-old Aiden Stein will switch to the boy's paternal grandmother under an agreement reached in late March between his 22-year-old parents and state officials.

Dawn Mansfield, the mother of Aiden's father, Matthew, has said that she plans to follow the wishes of the child's parents to have the boy remain on a ventilator to stay alive. Mr. Stein and Aiden's mother, April Heimlich, agreed to give up their parental rights as part of the deal reached in Richland County Juvenile Court.

Aiden was admitted to Akron Children's Hospital on March 15, 2004 with injuries that doctors said were consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. They have maintained that the boy is blind, deaf, and in a persistent vegetative state. They claim that Aiden cannot recover from his injuries and that it would be in his best interest to remove the ventilator that keeps him alive.

The doctors petitioned the court to appoint a temporary guardian, arguing that Aiden's parents have a conflict of interest because at least one of them could face criminal charges if the baby dies. Police suspect that Mr. Stein caused his son's injuries and that he was the only person present at the time. They have not ruled out his mother as a suspect in causing earlier traumas that doctors claim they have detected. Charges have not yet been filed against either parent.

Aiden's parents argue that the child is alert, that he responds to them, opens his eyes, holds up his own head, follows sounds, and even sits up. They believe he will recover further if given more time. They also assert that Aiden's injuries occurred during his birth.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in December that a lower court had no authority to appoint the temporary guardian to decide to end the child's life when the parents' rights had not yet been permanently terminated.

The court-appointed guardian, Ellen Kaforey, had supported the doctors' position. According to the Associated Press, Kaforey said earlier this week that she no longer believes she has any authority to make a decision after the state Supreme Court's ruling. Kaforey has said she supported placing Aiden in the custody of Mrs. Mansfield.

Summit County Probate Judge Bill Spicer ordered Kaforey to submit a report on Aiden's condition, his medical costs, and "whether this guardianship should remain open."

Edward Markovich, the attorney who represented Aiden's parents before the Ohio Supreme Court, told the Akron Beacon Journal about the custody decision, "It basically ends the litigation over the life of Aiden Stein so he becomes more of an ordinary person again instead of the eye of the storm."

The process of transferring Aiden's custody to his grandmother is expected to take 90 days. During the transition, he could be placed in a permanent care facility or specialized foster home, WFMD-TV reported.

Cases like Aiden's highlight a growing debate over whether parents or doctors should decide the course of action when a child experiences a significant brain injury.

"Aiden Stein timeline" (Akron Beacon Journal)
"Aiden Stein: Hospital Wants Baby's Life Support Removed" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Minister Vows To Fight On To Clarify Law On Cleft Lip-Related Abortions
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.


Prosecutors have ecided not to take legal action against two doctors who had performed a late-term abortion in 2001 on a fetus because it had a cleft lip and palate.

Jim England, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Mercia, said the doctors acted "in good faith" that it was likely the child would have a significant disability.

Under current British law, late-term abortions -- those taking place after the 24th week of pregnancy -- can be performed legally if two doctors agree the fetus has "a substantial risk" of having a "serious handicap".

Joanna Jepson, a minister in the Church of England, filed the original complaint in 2003 against the two unnamed doctors claiming that a cleft lip and palate is not a "serious handicap" under the law. She took the action, she said, to bring the issue of eugenic abortion into the public spotlight and to get the courts to clarify how such a disability is defined under the law.

"While I'm disappointed about the CPS's decision to drop the case, I am pleased the case has raised the issue of late-term abortion and the plight of disabled babies in late-term pregnancy," she told the Guardian. "It has exposed grave discrimination and I will be seeking legal advice."

The case is very personal for Reverend Jepson, 28, who underwent corrective surgery on her own jaw 11 years ago. Additionally, Jepson's 26-year-old brother, Alistair, has Down syndrome.

"The law is the only protection that disabled unborn babies such as Alistair have in their third trimester in the womb," she wrote in an opinion piece for Sunday's Telegraph. "As such, we need to spend some time getting it right."

Inclusion Daily Express reported in June of last year that in 2002 there were more abortions performed on fetuses with Down syndrome in England and Wales than there were live births of such babies.

Data from Britain's National Congenital Anomaly System also showed that the number of abortions carried out because of "chromosomal abnormalities" in 2002 increased 17 percent from the previous year. One pregnancy was terminated that year because of cleft lip and palate, five were ended because of "deformities of feet", and three others were aborted because of "limb reductions".

"Cleft lip abortion done 'in good faith" (The Guardian)
"Murder, even 'in good faith', is still murder" By Joanna Jepson" (The Telegraph)

"We Love Our Tubes!" Not Dead Yet In Solidarity with Terri S.
PINELLAS PARK FL, MAR 25, 2005--Members of Not Dead Yet from across the nation are headed to Pinellas Park, FL, in a show of solidarity for the dying Terri Schiavo. "Terri's feeding tube is the central issue. This is the reason she is being killed," says Not Dead Yet, whose activists have hit upon a protest that they hope will show the nation how misguided it is. The demonstrators vow "to tell the simple truths about tubes: feeding tubes, breathing tubes, peeing tubes and other tubes we need and love.

"Disabled people in wheelchairs will demonstrate and explain the realities of everyday life with tubes, confronting society's obvious horror and revulsion with our dignity and disability pride.

"We have been trained, over and over again, that if we only concealed our differences, tucked that legbag tube -- for draining urine -- under the pants leg, never talked about incontinence, that we could be (at least partially) accepted," says John Kelly of Boston Not Dead Yet.. "But the shame that we are meant to bear keeps us down more effectively than anything that anyone could do to us." MORE FROM THE NDY WEBSITE.

Feds Join Lawsuit Over Accessible Detroit Buses
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

DETROIT, MAR 22, 2005--The U.S. Department of Justice will help defend people with disabilities in a federal discrimination lawsuit over Detroit's public transportation system.

According to a DOJ statement released Monday, the Department is alleging that the City of Detroit has violated the federal 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by not having accessible wheelchair lifts.

The Department claims that the Detroit Department of Transportation has approximately 120 buses that have lifts which have not worked for more than six months. This has caused many wheelchair users to wait 30 minutes or more for a bus that has a working lift so they can make it to go grocery shopping, or to work, or to medical appointments.

Five DOJ attorneys will be joining an existing lawsuit filed last summer on behalf of five Detroit area residents who use wheelchairs to repair or replace the wheelchair lifts.

Since January, the city has been losing $1 million a month over the suit, which was filed by attorney Richard Bernstein.

"This is a huge step toward the rights of the disabled being fulfilled," Bernstein told the Oakland Press.

Judge Dismisses Wragg Jury After Deadlock
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

WORTHING, ENGLAND, MAR 21, 2005--After 11 days of testimony and 11 hours of deliberation, a jury deadlocked Thursday over whether to convict Andrew Wragg of murder in the suffocation death of his 10-year-old son, Jacob.

At Lewes Crown Court in Sussex, Mrs. Justice Rafferty dismissed the jury of nine women and three men after they said they could not come to a unanimous verdict in the case. When the judge told the jury she would accept a 10-2 decision, they explained that such a decision would not be likely, even if they were given more time.

Wragg, 37, confessed to smothering the boy to death with a pillow last July 24, but claimed it was a "mercy killing" to keep the boy from suffering from Hunter syndrome.

Children who have Hunter syndrome usually experience mental and physical disabilities and seldom live past age 20. Jacob was blind, could not speak, and walked only on his tip-toes at the time of his death. Witnesses testified, however, that he was happy and active just before his father killed him.

During the trial, prosecutors said that Wragg plotted to end Jacob's life. Wragg's friends and his wife, Mary, testified that he told them he would use a pillow to end his son's life because he was frustrated that Jacob no longer recognized him.

Wragg, a military security specialist, claimed that he was under stress after returning from the Iraq war at the time. He also testified that his wife was in on the plot and that he would not have killed the child without her approval.

After dismissing the jury, Rafferty released Wragg on bail, with the same conditions as before his trial. He is still charged with murder and is not allowed to see his 7-year-old son or Mary Wragg, whom he divorced last year, without supervision.

Prosecutors did not indicate whether they will press for another trial. If they take no action on the murder charge, Wragg will automatically be convicted of manslaughter because of his own "diminished capacity" at the time of the killing.

Jacob's death is one of many cases of "altruistic filicide", in which a parent kills a child -- often one with disabilities -- claiming the death is "for the child's own good".

"Altruistic Filicide: Bioethics or Criminology?" by Dick Sobsey, Ed.D (Health Ethics Today - Nov. 2001)
"Jacob Wragg: Dad Admitted Killing Son Because of His Disability" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Supremes To Decide Special Ed Issue
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

SILVER SPRING, MAR 18, 2005--On February 22, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case that could effect disputes between parents and schools over special education around the country.

At issue is whether it is up to parents to prove that a school has not provided an adequate education plan for a child with a disability, or whether the schools must prove that they have done so.

The case involves Jocelyn and Martin Schaffer, who requested in 1998 that their son Brian, then a 7th grader, receive special education services at Herbert Hoover Middle School in Rockville, Maryland. The parents rejected two Individualized Education Programs the district proposed, claiming that the school system did not provide a free, appropriate public education for Brian as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Schaffers placed their son in a private school and went to court asking Montgomery County Public Schools to reimburse them for the cost of tuition.

Because the IDEA does not specifically address the issue, judges in federal and state courts have come down on opposite sides. Last July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled for Montgomery County in this case.

If the high court rules against the Schaffers this fall, it could embolden more parents to challenge schools on the special education services they provide to students with disabilities. Education officials argue that a judgment for the parents could cost schools millions of dollars to defend their positions.

"Dispute over special ed goes to Supreme Court" (The Gazette)
"Special Ed Battles" (Washington Post)

Report: Time To Switch Money To Communities
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

BATON ROUGE, MAR 17, 2005--A report released Monday by a legislative auditor found that Louisiana spends too much money on nursing homes and other institutions while spending too little on community-based supports for seniors and people with disabilities.

According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the auditors discovered that nearly 6,000 people housed in nursing facilities needed little support and could potentially be served in the community.

At the same time, more than 11,000 are on waiting lists for home and community-based services. Additionally, about 850 people in nursing facilities and 900 people with mental disabilities in institutions are on waiting lists for community services.

The report's authors said that shifting people from institutional to community supports could free up funds for between 2,132 and 4,206 people to receive services.

"Because of the lack of specific, measurable criteria, individuals who are relatively independent and may not require 24-hour care may be admitted to nursing facilities," they said in the report.

The auditors recommended developing a better assessment system to determine whether a person needs to live in an institution; prioritizing community services so those in greatest need get services first; and removing the barriers that keep care providers from competing openly.

Finally, the auditors suggested closing at least one of two state-operated nursing homes, and closing or down-sizing state-operated institutions housing people with mental disabilities.

Related: "Report says cut nursing-home funds, boost other programs" (The Advocate)

Latimer Supporters Again Call For Clemency
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN, MAR 17, 2005--Last Friday, a group from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association met with federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to push for clemency for Robert Latimer.

The group included former Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney, who called Latimer's minimum 10-year imprisonment for second-degree murder "an injustice".

Latimer admitted that he killed his 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, who had cerebral palsy and mental retardation in October 1993. He said he pumped fuel exhaust into the cab of his pickup, where Tracy lay, to end her "suffering" from her disabilities and surgeries.

Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own emotional pain. Some people who knew Tracy said that even though the girl did not speak, she let them know how much she loved people and enjoyed life. Others have pointed out that when Tracy died she was scheduled to undergo pain-relieving hip surgery a few days later.

The Canada Supreme Court ruled in January 2001 that Latimer was to spend at least 10 years of a 25-year sentence behind bars. He will first be eligible for parole in December 2007.

Members of the CCLA have pushed for Latimer's release for years. On Friday, the delegation reportedly told Cotler that Latimer's sentence is one reason minimum mandatory sentencing should be removed from the Criminal Code.

For more than a decade, the Latimer case has been the focus of attention for disability rights advocates who see it as one of countless examples that society in general does not think the lives of people with disabilities are important -- that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".

University of Alberta psychology professor Dick Sobsey has noted that Canada experienced a marked increase in the incidence of "altruistic filicide" -- the killing of a child out of a belief that death is in the child's best interest -- in the years immediately following Tracy's murder.

Related: "Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

"Apprentice" Producers Settle Discrimination Suit
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

ST. LOUIS, MAR 17, 2005--The producers of Donald Trump's NBC television show "The Apprentice" have agreed to add language to their on-line contestant application process encouraging people with disabilities to apply, according to a lawyer who sued the program for discrimination.

Attorney James Schottel Jr., who has used a wheelchair since a 1991 head injury, agreed to drop the suit after Mark Burnett Productions, Inc. added the sentence, "All applicants who believe they meet our criteria, including persons with disabilities, are welcome and encouraged to apply to be a participant", to the show's rules.

Schottel sued the company last month alleging that the application rules, which required contestants to be in good mental health and "meet all physical and psychological requirements", discriminated against him and other would-be contestants with disabilities.

"My interpretation of that was that I was excluded," Schottel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Neither Trump Productions LLC nor Mark Burnett Productions admitted any liability, said Schottel, who added that he did not seek any compensation in the deal.

"I think that's satisfactory," Schottel said of the settlement. "I'm still a fan of the show, and I was pleased that the online application is going to be modified and that they have shown they have a commitment to consider people with disabilities. That was my goal from the beginning."

Mr. Burnett said in a statement: "It was never our intent to exclude from consideration persons with disabilities."

"Even before we learned of this lawsuit, our staff in New York had already interviewed three persons in wheelchairs," Burnett said. "We continue to urge all potential participants, including those with disabilities, who are interested to apply for the show."

In 2000, Florida disability rights advocates sued ABC-TV claiming the contestant application process for the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" discriminated against people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have certain physical disabilities. The producers were using a call-in system requiring would-be contestants to answer questions by quickly tapping responses on touch-tone phone buttons.

That suit made its way to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2002 before the producers agreed to settle the case out of court.

Man's $1 Million Pledge For Terri Shiavo Life Refused by Husband
SAN DIEGO, MAR 11, 2005-- California businessman Robert Herring's offer to pay $1 million to Michael Schiavo if he will transfer the legal guardianship of wife Terri Schiavo to her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, has been turned down. Michael Schiavo wants the legal right to have his estranged wife's feeding tube removed, a move advocates fighting for her life say will result in her dehydration and starvation. Schiavo's attorney called Herring's monetary offer "offensive."

Currently Terri Schiavo is scheduled to have her feeding tube removed on March 18, under court order from Pinellas County (FL) judge George Greer, who says that the legal manuevers have been exhausted. (More on this.) Yesterday Greer rejected a motion by Florida's social services agency to intervene in the case to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Schindlers have said that if they had the legal guardianship over their daughter, they would see that she receives therapy.

The news item reports that Herring's offer is "on the table until Monday."

Currently Terri Schiavo is scheduled to have her feeding tube removed on March 18, a move that advocates fighting for her life say will result in her dehydration and starvation.

Herring says that he has had no personal contact with Michael Schiavo or the Schindlers , and is not affiliated with any organization involved in the case.

"I believe very strongly that there are medical advances happening around the globe that very shortly could have a positive impact on Terri's condition," he told reporters.

More from
The San Francisco Chronicle.

Facing Suit, City Orders 1,000 New Curb Cuts
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

MCKEESPORT, PA, MAR 11, 2005--A few years ago, Margaret Stokes was struck by a car while riding her wheelchair in a McKeesport street. The driver sped away leaving Stokes uninjured but with a broken chair.

Rob Robertson has been forced to ride his wheelchair in the street, too, for the same reason as Stokes: The Pittsburgh suburb does not have enough accessible curb cuts. Even though the city has built several new curb cuts in recent years, many are too narrow or too steep, or were made with a drop to the pavement of up to three inches.

Like Stokes, Robertson has also been the victim of "hit and runs" of sorts, having had trash tossed at him from car windows.

The last straw for Robertson was when a motorist spat on him.

According to a story in a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 38-year-old Robertson, who had been learning advocacy skills as a housing counselor at the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, got the local Disability Law Project to write letters of complaint to the city. After getting no response to several letters, the agency helped Robertson and Stokes to file a federal suit against the town in February 2004.

Newly elected Mayor Jim Brewster and the new city attorney Jason Elash decided right away not to fight the suit.

"We never really defended the lawsuit because we were wrong," Elash said.

Mayor Brewster added: "People who don't need the ramps don't understand [the need for] them."

Because of the advocacy efforts of Robertson and Stokes, the city has agreed to spend $1 million to get 1,000 curb cuts installed over the next five years.

Related: Pair who use wheelchairs sue McKeesport for access, freedom from abuse (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Alabama Teenager To Continue In-Home Services
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

MOBILE, AL, MAR 10, 2005--Chalk another one up to the power of the media and advocates to change and save lives.

The Alabama Medicaid Agency has decided to change its regulations and allow 13-year-old Lauren Rainey and dozens of other people like her to continue receiving in-home nursing care.

The girl, who is deaf, and has asthma, an enlarged heart, scoliosis, and other medical conditions, also has a very small airway, requiring her to use an oxygen machine and humidifying mist machine. Her airway has to be suctioned several times an hour to keep her from suffocating.

The Mobile television station WPMI-TV reported in November that Lauren was going to lose the 10 hours of daily nursing services she needed to be able to stay at home. Her doctor said that if Lauren lost her in-home care, her condition would deteriorate quickly and her life would be at risk.

The state's Medicaid Medical Director had decided that Lauren's funding would be cut because her condition was stable. Only people whose medical conditions are worsening were eligible for in-home nursing care, Dr. Mary McIntyre told a reporter.

After the story was aired locally and distributed around the world via email and the Internet, the station and the Medicaid office were flooded with messages supporting Lauren and her family.

It also got the attention of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, which agreed to represent the family in its fight against Medicaid.

In the brief story over the weekend, WPMI noted that the state Medicaid agency had completed a 90-day investigation period and decided to change its rules so that Lauren and dozens others would continue to receive the help they need. The story did not explain the rule change, nor did it indicate who would be effected.

The new rules will go into effect in May.

In March of 2001, Nick Dupree, another Alabaman who uses a ventilator, launched a successful campaign to get Medicaid to pay for his in-home services after he turned 21, along with those of 29 other people in the same situation.

"A Medicaid policy under review - Lauren Rainey and other children wait in the wings" (WJTC-TV)
"Nick Dupree's Crusade Pays Off" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Mom Says Killer Dad Embarrassed At Son's Disability
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

WORTHING, ENGLAND, MAR 2, 2005--Jurors this week are hearing testimony in the case of a military security specialist who admitted killing his 10-year-old son because of his disability.

Andrew Wragg, 37, told police he killed his son, Jacob, on July 24 of last year. He called it a "mercy killing" in order to keep the boy from suffering from Hunter syndrome. Children that have Hunter syndrome usually experience mental and physical disabilities and often die before age 20.

Wragg confessed immediately to suffocating Jacob, saying the boy wanted him to do it. He said he was worried about what his son's quality of life would be as a teenager. He is asking that he be convicted of manslaughter rather than murder because of his own mental condition at the time. Police measured Wragg's blood alcohol level at 3 1/2 times the legal driving limit at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutors argue that Wragg plotted to end Jacob's life, even telling his wife and friends that he planned to smother him with a pillow, because he was frustrated that his son was no longer able to recognize and communicate with him.

"I felt it was something he said to deal with the difficulty of the situation and the fact that he felt powerless to be able to provide an answer or a solution to the problem," Jacob's mother, Mary, told the court Wednesday.

Mary Wragg, 41, testified that her son was not suffering in any way on the days before he died.

"On the day of his death, he was active and strong," she explained. "He was happy. He was just Jacob."

She said that during most of her son's short life, she was left alone to take care of him and get him back and forth to doctors and hospitals, in part because her husband "did not like ill people" and was embarrassed at having a son with a disability.

Jacob's death is reminiscent of other cases of "altruistic filicide", when a parent kills a child -- usually one with disabilities -- claiming the death is in the child's best interest.

Father accused of murder 'disliked ill people'
Son embarrassed 'killer' (The Sun)
"SAS soldier spoke of killing terminally ill son" (The Times)
"Crimes Against Children With Disabilities" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Supremes Hear Cruise Ship Access Case
WASHINGTON, DC, MAR 1, 2005-- Passengers with disabilities who have been charged higher than normal prices on cruise ships, and others who could not get accessible accommodations aboard ships, finally had their case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.

At issue: must foreign-owned cruise lines obey the nondiscrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act? Cruise ships who dock at U.S. ports (mainly Miami) and whose bulk of business comes from the U.S. should be covered by nondiscrimination provisions, argued attorney Thomas C. Goldstein for the plaintiffs.

Two lower courts had disagreed, bringing the case before the Supreme Court: the Circuit Court in Miami said the ADA should apply; the Circuit in New Orleans said it may not apply regarding foreign vessels.

More on yesterday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court from The Washington Post.

Background on the issues in the suit from the National Law Journal.

March 18 Set for Terri Schiavo Feeding Tube Removal
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

CLEARWARTER, FL, MAR 1, 2005--Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer, saying he was "no longer comfortable" issuing any more stays in the court battle over Terri Schiavo's life, set March 18 as the day her husband is to have her feeding tube removed.

Greer thereby rejected a motion by Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who wanted a 60-day delay to argue that their daughter's Constitutional rights to due process have been violated, that her condition should be reassessed with new technology, and that her husband should be removed as her legal guardian.

"Five years have passed since the issuance of the February 2000 order authorizing the removal of Theresa Schiavo's nutrition and hydration and there appears to be no finality in sight to the process," Greer wrote in a three-page decision on Friday. "The Court, therefore, is no longer comfortable in continuing to grant stays pending appeal of orders denying Respondents' various motions and petitions."

"The process does not work when the trial court finds a motion to be without merit but then stays the effect of such denial for months pending appellate review," Greer continued. "Also, the Court is no longer comfortable granting stays simply upon the filing of new motions and petitions since there will always be 'new' issues that can be pled. The Respondents will need to demonstrate before the appellate courts that their requests have merit and accordingly are worthy of a stay."

Greer said he set the date three weeks from now to give Terri's family time to appeal his decision to a higher court and for Terri, who is Catholic, to receive last rites.

Supporters on both sides of the case applauded Greer's decision. Her parents called it a temporary relief, but not a victory. Her husband's attorney said he was pleased Greer recognized the need to end the case.

Greer mentioned briefly that Florida's Department of Children and Families had asked to intervene in the case. He did not indicate that the agency plans to investigate claims that Terri has been abused by her husband.

Greer's ruling came 15 years to the day that Terri's brain was damaged after she collapsed and stopped breathing for several minutes. She breathes on her own today, but receives her food and water through a tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

Her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, petitioned the court in 1998 to have Terri's feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration. He and his doctors convinced the court that she is in a "persistent vegetative state", that she is not aware of her surroundings, and that she will not recover. He also claimed that she told him before her brain injury that she would not want to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents have argued that she is aware, that she responds to them, and that she would improve through therapies that her husband has refused to allow. They also claim that Terri would not have wanted to go against last year's pronouncement by Pope John Paul II that allowing people to die by dehydration and starvation is morally wrong.

The Schindlers want Terri's condition evaluated by new technology that could reveal that she is alert and mentally active, and they want Mr. Schiavo removed as Terri's guardian, in part because he is engaged to a woman with whom he has fathered two children.

Claims that Terri's husband abused her before and after her injury have come up in the past. An investigation by the Pinellas State Attorney's office found no evidence of abuse in her medical records. Another by the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities was stalled when the federally-mandated agency was unable to get permission -- from her husband -- to examine Terri.

Several disability rights groups have been supporting Terri's family in their efforts to spare her life. They are concerned that allowing Terri to die by starvation would reinforce a strong societal view that the lives of people with certain disabilities are "not worth living".

On Thursday, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, reminded listeners on Vatican radio that the pope has confirmed that "the quality of life is not interpreted as economic success, beauty and physical pleasure, but consists in the supreme dignity of the creature made in the image and likeness of God."

"If Mr. Schiavo succeeds legally in causing the death of his wife, this not only would be tragic in itself, but would be a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States," the Cardinal said.

If Terri's feeding tube is removed, it will be for the third time since 2000.

Related: "Schiavo Parents Plan More Legal Activity" (Associated Press)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Last month's news


More news can be found at these sites:

The "Disabilities and the disabled" news from Yahoo Full Coverage provides news stories from mainstream media

A running "News Ticker" of stories is online at http://www.acdd.org/news.htm#search

For disability movement news, visit the JFA Newsgroup


© Copyright 2004 The Ragged Edge

This Website produced by Cliffwood Organic Works