Senator Mel Martinez’s (R-FL) private relief bill to aid Terri Schiavo passed the Senate by a voice vote yesterday.
The Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005 will allow Schiavo’s parents to appeal to a Federal Court and give the court an opportunity to ensure that Schiavo’s due process rights had not been violated in the state judicial proceedings.
Earlier yesterday, Concerned Women for America (CWA) issued a statement, urging the Senate to take immediate action to save Schiavo, a 41-year-old disabled woman, whose feeding tube is scheduled to be removed this afternoon.
"Terri's plight is a clear choice for Americans. It’s a watershed moment whether we as a country will decide for disabled people that their death is preferable to us than life," Wendy Wright, CWA's senior policy director, had said in a statement.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed identical legislation March 16. It had been sponsored by Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL) and would delay the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube by moving the case to federal court.
However, Senate Democrats blocked the legislation, reported WorldNetDaily.com. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would try to pass a separate bill.
"If we don't act or if somebody does not act, a living person who has a level of consciousness, who is self-breathing will be starved to death here in the next two weeks," Frist reportedly said.
Florida's state House also passed a bill yesterday by a vote of 78-37 that would help to keep Schiavo alive.
WorldNetDaily.com reported that the Senate immediately began debating a scaled-down version of the House bill, which would block withholding of food and water from patients in a persistent vegetative state who didn't leave a written directive. The Senate bill would apply only to cases in which families disagreed on the patient's wishes.
Florida state Sen. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, said the new legislation avoids the constitutional problems found in "Terri's Law" of 2003, which the Florida Supreme Court said violated the legal separation between the three branches of government.
Schindler lobbies in Washington
The CWA also reported that Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, has been in Washington, lobbying senators and congressmen to protect her life.
Wright reported that Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Connecticut), one of the few congressmen to speak against the bill to save Schiavo, said to Bobby: “That's not a life.”
She underlined that Johnson said this about a woman who responds to jokes and communicates through blinking “even trying to stand up when told that if she didn't attempt to, then she would be killed."