TAMPA, Fla. – A brain-damaged woman kept alive for years over the objection of her husband has been "stripped of her most intimate personal rights," his lawyer said in papers filed Monday with the state Supreme Court.
Michael Schiavo (search), the husband of Terri Schiavo (search), has sued Gov. Jeb Bush (search) over "Terri's Law," a measure Bush pushed through the Legislature in October after Schiavo removed the feeding tube keeping his wife alive.
Terri Schiavo had gone six days without food or water and was in the process of dying when the governor ordered her feedings resumed.
Schiavo is challenging the law keeping the 40-year-old woman alive.
"Mrs. Schiavo is more akin to subjects of an absolute dictatorship than citizens of a democratic state," the written arguments by Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said. "Nothing could be more repugnant to the Florida Constitution."
Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman in Bush's office, said in a statement Monday that the governor was "asking for our day in court so that all the facts can be heard. ... Terri's current wishes are not known and Michael Schiavo has a clear conflict of interest in respect to Terri's future."
Felos countered that Bush was trying to distract the court from the central issue: whether he overstepped his authority in taking control of Terri Schiavo's life.
"The statute itself makes Terri's wishes irrelevant because the governor, under the statute, need not take into account the patient's wishes," he said.
Arguments are scheduled before the Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 31.
Terri Schiavo has depended on the feeding tube to help keep her alive for more than a decade after collapsing from a chemical imbalance. Michael Schiavo said his wife, who left no written living will, would have never wanted to be kept alive artificially.
But her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say their daughter had no such death wish and persuaded Bush and the Florida Legislature to intervene.
"Terri's Law" was declared unconstitutional by a Pinellas Circuit Court judge who accepted Michael Schiavo's arguments that it violates his wife's privacy right and the separation of powers between Florida's branches of government.
Bush's attorneys say the law is constitutional because it provides an extra layer of protection for the disabled. The governor also argues the Pinellas court should not have struck down the law without first holding a trial where Bush's attorneys could question Michael Schiavo.
Bush attorney Ken Connor has said many issues need resolution before Michael Schiavo should be allowed to remove the feeding tube, including why he never mentioned his wife's wishes during a malpractice trial where the couple was awarded more than $700,000 to care for Terri Schiavo until the end of her life.
Also at issue, the governor contends, is whether there is hope for Terri Schiavo's condition to improve through rehabilitation. Some medical experts have concluded she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery, but her parents and other doctors disagree.