Schiavo Case Takes Center Stage at Florida Capitol

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The sign "In God We Trust" hangs in State Rep. Dennis Baxley’s office. Baxley is receiving hundreds of e-mails for his efforts to keep Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed.

Calling it the Starvation and Dehydration Prevention Act, a House committee has recommended stripping judges of their authority to make life and death decisions and giving that authority to a guardian.

The legislation would also require guardians like Michael Schiavo to spend 30 hours of quality time over three months with a patient before they could order life sustaining efforts withheld.

Rep. Ed Homan, (R) Temple Terrace, says, "The courts are failing at handling this and we are tired of hearing about it."

The medical community and lawyers who deal with living wills opposed the bill, saying it calls into questions thousands of existing documents.

Larry Spalding of the ACLU says, "The key unit of society is the family, and you are taking away rights from the family."

Dennis Baxley says, "If we are going to make a mistake, let it be that we let somebody live, thank you."

Even with the committee action, the clock is ticking for Terri Schiavo. The sponsors are becoming resigned to the fact that the Legislature may not act in time to make a difference.

Two more House committees must hear the legislation and a Senate companion is yet to be filed. A judge says Terri Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed on March 18. It would take about a week for her to die once food and water are cut off.