Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Anger at Bushes as time grows short for Schiavo

Yahoo! News
Anger at Bushes as time grows short for Schiavo

Mon Mar 28, 7:56 AM ET

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

A week ago, the demonstrators outside Terri Schiavo's hospice were mostly calm. They prayed, sang hymns and awaited word from protest organizers about legal developments in the case, hoping their presence might help save the brain-damaged woman.

By Sunday, after nine days of legal defeats for Schiavo's parents in their effort to have her feeding tube reattached, much of the optimism was gone. Last week's unity among the demonstrators had splintered, and an undercurrent of anger ran through them.

Their ire was directed at Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, who successfully petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube removed; at state judge George Greer, who has ruled consistently in his favor; and increasingly, at President Bush (news - web sites) and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations (news - web sites) told him not to go into Iraq (news - web sites)," Randall Terry, a protest organizer, said of the governor. "Be a man. Put politics aside."

Sharon Mull, who drove here from St. Augustine, said she had written three letters to the governor in the past few days. "It seems like he could have intervened more," she said. "At this point, it's getting too late to help this woman. She's being tortured. She's being murdered."

Last Monday, President Bush signed an emergency bill from Congress enabling Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to have federal courts hear their appeal to restore her feeding tube. Gov. Bush asked state courts for permission to take custody of Schiavo. But the Schindlers have been turned down by every court, and the president and the governor have said they can do no more.

Among the messages on protest signs Sunday: "Barbara Bush: Are you proud of your sons now?" "Stop the American Holocaust!" "Send in the National Guard!"

Tension mounted outside Woodside Hospice here, where Schiavo was in her 10th day without food or water. Bobby Schindler, Schiavo's brother, told the protesters they aren't helping his family by getting arrested.

Karl Henderson, 25, of Denver Bible Church, took issue with Schindler. "We should be able to take her water if she's dying," he said.

"You're not speaking for our family," Schindler said.

Sunday's protest played out throughout the day. Several members of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group, lay on a driveway in front of their wheelchairs. Jerry Layne, a Baptist street preacher from Chattanooga, Tenn., delivered a fiery sermon, saying the multiple court rulings in the Schiavo case are part of the nation's moral decline.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a protest organizer, urged the demonstrators, whose numbers ranged from about 75 to 100, to remain peaceful.

"It's going to get more emotional," he said. "You're going to have more feelings. But we don't want the focus to be on us. We want the focus to be on Terri."

Michael Schiavo has argued that his wife wouldn't want to live hooked up to a tube. But her parents have argued that their daughter, a Roman Catholic, would not have wanted the tube removed. She was given communion Sunday. She also received last rites and communion when the feeding tube was removed March 18.

Terry, a spokesman for the Schindler family, said he thinks there's still time to keep Schiavo alive.

"She's still conscious," he said. "She's still responding, and she's still fighting for her life. She is hanging on. That is her message to Gov. (Jeb) Bush and the world. She wants to live."