U. S. House passes Terri's Law
Last night the U. S. House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, HR 1332, the Protection of Incapacitated Persons Act of 2005. This bill gives an incapacitated person, or the "next friend" of an incapacitated person (a term that would include parents), the right to pursue a cause of action on behalf of the incapacitated person in Federal district court. The Federal court would be authorized determine "whether authorizing or directing the withholding or withdrawal of food or fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain the incapacitated person's life constitutes a deprivation of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Unlike HR 1151, this bill makes no reference to habeas corpus.
The determination would be made de novo -- that means the court would hear the case as if it had never been heard before and would consider arguments and evidence. In a situation like Terri Schiavo's, it would mean an incapacitated person's life would not be in the hands of one judge only. Yesterday's NRO piece by Rob Johansen documents Pinellas County, Florida, Judge George Greer's shortcomings in considering medical evidence and explains the bizarre reality that Judge Greer's findings of fact can only be reversed by Judge Greer.
Judge Greer has decreed that Terri's slow death will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Everything now depends upon the U. S. Senate taking action quickly. Please contact Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (phone 202-224-3344, fax 202-228-1264) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (phone 202-224-3542, fax 202-224-7327) and urge them to move this bill forward. If you're a Floridian, there is legislation pending in Tallahassee that needs your help -- click here for more information.
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