DeLay Says He's Not Giving Up Schiavo Fight

ByABC News via logo

March 19, 2005 — -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that he and other Republican members of Congress would continue to work through the weekend to come up with a bill to force doctors to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

After a heated legal and political battle, the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube was removed Friday afternoon, despite a last-ditch effort by Congress to prevent it.

On Friday, House Republicans took the extraordinary step of subpoenaing Schiavo to testify before a Congressional committee, but a Florida judge refused that order. Then late Friday, a House committee filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking justices to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube while the committee files appeals.

The Supreme Court denied that appeal without comment, and in a statement issued Saturday, DeLay, R-Texas, called the court's decision a "moral and legal tragedy."

"A death row inmate has more of a process to go through than Terri Schiavo does," DeLay said earlier on ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Saturday. "All we're doing in Congress is giving Terri Schiavo an opportunity to come to the federal courts and review what this judge in Florida has been doing, and he's been trying to kill Terri for 4 1/2 years."

Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, who has pushed for removal of the feeding tube, responded to House Republican efforts with disgust, and expressed particular vitriol for DeLay.

"You have Tom DeLay … making absurd statements that Terri said she didn't want to die. How does he know that? He's never met her," Schiavo said on "Good Morning America" on Saturday.

Terri Schiavo, 41, has been kept alive by a feeding tube for over 15 years after suffering from a heart attack and falling into a coma. Her husband, who is Terri's legal guardian, has repeatedly tried to have the tube removed, saying that is what his wife wanted.

Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought to keep the tube in place to keep her alive, insisting that their daughter could get better with rehabilitative therapy.

This is the third time a judge has ordered Schiavo to be removed from her feeding tube, and the Schindlers say they won't give up their fight to keep her alive.

"Nobody wants to live in this condition, but the answer is that we don't starve humans to death," said Terri's brother, Bob Schindler, on "Good Morning America."

The family's troubles have devolved into a bitter public battle, with some conservative Republicans, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and right-to-life organizations taking up the Schindlers' cause.

ABC News obtained talking points circulated among Senate Republicans explaining whythey should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them, that it is an important moral issue and the "pro-life base will be excited," and that it is a "great political issue -- this is a tough issue for Democrats."

When asked about these talking points on "Good Morning America," DeLay said, "I don't know where those talking points come from, and I think they're disgusting."

In this case, the Republican's political wrangling in the Schiavo case does not seem to reflect the majority of American's opinions.

According to an ABC News poll released earlier this week, 87 percent of those surveyed said they would not want to be kept alive if in Schiavo's condition, and 65 percent said a spouse should have the final say in what happens to a patient, as opposed to parents.

Michael Schiavo is adamant that politics have no place in what he says is a personal situation, and has called the Republican's actions a "mockery."

"These people in Congress are walking all over my personal and private life," he said. "I'm telling you, the United States citizens, you better start speaking up, because thesepeople are going to trample into your personal, private affairs."

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