A federal judge weighed the fate of a brain-damaged Florida woman on Monday, acting hours after the U.S. Congress and President Bush intervened to push the highly charged right-to-die case back into court.
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore began a hearing shortly after 3 p.m. EST to consider a request from Terri Schiavo’s parents to reinstate tube feeding for their 41-year-old daughter that was halted three days ago. CNN reported that the judge gave each side 30 minutes to make their case.
Spurred by Christian conservatives who have embraced the case for prolonging Schiavo’s life as representing the “culture of life,” Congress rushed though special legislation to move the case to federal courts for a fresh review. Bush cut short a Texas holiday to sign the law shortly after 1 a.m. EST.
The extraordinary intervention by the Republican-controlled Congress into a legal dispute was criticized by Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, and by some Democrats as politically motivated meddling in a bitter family matter that has already been decided by state courts.
Bush, whose re-election last November was attributed in part to strong support from the religious right, thanked lawmakers for giving the parents “another opportunity to save her (Schiavo’s) life.”
“This is a complex case with serious issues. But in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life,” Bush said in Tucson, Arizona.