Legislation is speeding through the Florida Capitol in hopes of keeping Terri Schiavo alive. Friday is the court ordered deadline for removing her feeding tube. Lawmakers are having a tough time deciding how to vote on this very personal issue.
Members of a Christian group from Washington, DC prayed passionately outside the Capitol to show support for legislation that could keep Terri Schiavo alive. Some have their mouths taped shut, symbolizing people like Schiavo who can’t speak for themselves.
Monique Mervin arranges dying roses, all part of the message to lawmakers.
Monique says, “I’m hoping that they will see, especially with young people, that there’s young people who are taking a stand for life.”
Two bills moving quickly through both the House and Senate would strictly limit removal of feeding tubes from incapacitated people.
The Schiavo issue may be one of the few at the Capitol that is not a Democrats versus Republicans battle. The consensus is this one’s too personal, even for lawmakers.
House Democratic leader Chris Smith says he’s not telling anyone how to vote on the feeding tube issue. He’s not even sure how he’ll vote himself.
Rep. Chris Smith, (D) Ft. Lauderdale, says, “It’s such an American tragedy that we’re faced with this situation, and so it’s hard to really get upset at anyone on the other side.”
Still, with momentum building, House sponsor Dennis Baxley expects passage this week in time to save Schiavo.
Rep. Dennis Baxley says, “It’s certainly my intention that when we change the law it would be effective for any living person.”
But what is also certain is with the bill’s passage, the emotional debate will land right back in court.
A House committee was expected to pass the feeding tube bill Monday afternoon. The bill has its final committee hearing Tuesday morning, and a similar Senate bill has a hearing at noon.
The bills could come up for a full House and Senate vote as soon as Thursday, and a final version headed to the governor's desk by Friday.