Published January 13, 2015
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," January 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The United States Supreme Court has rejected a petition from Florida governor Jeb Bush in the case of Terri Schiavo (search). This decision clears the way to remove the feeding tube from the brain-damaged Florida woman. The feeding tube has been keeping her alive for more than a decade.
In a moment, Terri's family goes "On the Record" in a FOX News Channel exclusive. But first, Florida governor Jeb Bush says he is disappointed but not surprised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JEB BUSH, R-FLA.: I will do whatever I can. I'm not going to do more than that because I have a duty to uphold the law. So we've looked at many options, some of which have had to be discarded because they weren't in my authority. And that authority has been defined now by the courts, so we move on from that.
We need to review our laws, given the fact that there was enough ambiguity here that it was hearsay evidence that became, you know, the basis for which a judge made a decision. And it ought to be reviewed. It ought to be looked at from a broader perspective, not just one individual case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us in Tampa is David Gibbs, attorney for the Schindlers. And here in Washington are Terri Schiavo father, Robert Schindler, and her brother, Bobby, Jr. Welcome to all of you.
Bob, first to you. Very disappointing news for your family today.
ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: Well, we were disappointed. Actually, we had hoped for the best.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think the Supreme Court wouldn't hear this case? Because the result of them not hearing it is the Florida Supreme Court case stands, which says that Michael, her husband, can withdraw the feeding tube.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Well, it seems that no one wants to hear this case. We had the same problem in the appellate court. They will not hear the case. And they just keep us in a hot potato, and the Supreme Court just did the exact same thing.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, have you talked to Michael Schiavo and tried to convince him -- I've followed this case for a long time and it seems you would like to take over the care for your daughter, Terri.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Correct. Just recently, I know we've made two different proposals to Michael Schiavo just for that, that he can go walk away from this thing and we will not prosecute him if we find any reason to prosecute, and just walk away, just give us our daughter. That's all we want. That's we've asked for for the past 10 years is Terri.
And you've got to keep in mind that Terri is not in a coma. Terri is awake. And the people perceive her as in a coma. She's not. And she's not on any type of artificial life support, and she could be sitting right here with you and I tonight, if her husband would allow her to leave her room.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bobby, what happened to your sister?
ROBERT SCHINDLER, JR., TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: Well, we don't know. Again, the media reports that she had a heart attack -- I've collected an incredible amount of evidence that really points the finger that something very ugly could have happened to Terri that night. And we have evidence that the judges in this case -- that's what Governor Bush alluded to -- we aren't allowed to hold or conduct any proper investigation to see what happened to Terri that night.
And we've had so much evidence that has come forward within the last three years that really suggests that something horrible could have happened to Terri the night she collapsed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bobby, have you had a chance to visit your sister? Because I know there's been a lot of conflict back and forth over the years. But have you seen your sister in the last six months?
ROBERT SCHINDLER, JR.: Oh, yes. I mean, our visiting privileges have been reinstated. I mean, we're allowed to visit Terri, but that's about all we can do is visit her. We just had a deal with the nursing home that she's in, in her hospice facility, because we found out recently that Michael ordered her shades shut at all times, allowing no sunlight into her room. We can't take her outside.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why? Why did he want no sunlight?
ROBERT SCHINDLER, JR.: Well, you would have to ask him that. But he's trying to deprive her of any type of stimulation. So our family's had to deal with all these instances. Even to take Terri outside, we have to ask Michael permission and he denies us every time. She hasn't been outside in four years.
VAN SUSTEREN: David, is there a next step legally?
DAVID GIBBS, SCHIAVO FAMILY ATTORNEY: Greta, absolutely, there's a next step legally. We are going to be before the Florida courts arguing that Terri's religious liberty rights are being violated by the courts and her due process rights are being violated.
I have to disagree with your comment that the ruling by the Supreme Court today is going to pave the way for her life to be taken. There's a number of things that are still unresolved before the Florida courts. And we're optimistic that in this life-and-death case, where the ultimate end result is the starvation and dehydration of a human being, something that is criminal and not allowed to be done to animals -- that the courts will look at these important civil rights, these important constitutional issues, and we're still optimistic. We're going to be in court on Friday.
VAN SUSTEREN: David, why didn't you raise them before now? I mean, one of the big problems is that time is marching on. If there are these important issues, you know, why didn't they come up earlier?
GIBBS: Well, we've only recently been the lead counsel on this case, and different lawyers have been involved and looked at these issues. Some of them are brand-new. The pope made a proclamation just in the year 2004 clarifying the Catholic Church position. And so we're dealing with some new issues. We're dealing with some important legal issues that we feel have been overlooked.
For example, in this case, Terri Schiavo has never had independent legal counsel. The parents have had legal counsel. The guardians had legal counsel. But Terri Schiavo, the woman with the right to privacy, the woman with the constitutional right...
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask Bob a question. Bob, when was the last time you saw Terri?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Sunday.
VAN SUSTEREN: How'd she look to you?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Oh, Terri looked fine, with the exception that she's having a twitching condition, and they're giving her some kind of sedation that actually makes her very sleepy when we see her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does she squeeze her hand, I mean, show some recognition?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: What she does is, with her mother, as soon as she sees her mother, she lights up like a light bulb. And then she starts talking to her mother, and she's talking, and she's saying things. And her mother says, Terri, what are you saying? And she's making noises, like guttural noises. And those noises and what's coming out, according to speech therapists, is she's talking, except she can't pronounce the words and she needs speech therapy. And she's never had any.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, gentlemen, thank you all very much. And obviously, you know, a very tough issue, tough case, and rather tragic for everybody involved.
We've got to bring in the other side now. Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos, joins us in Tampa, Florida. George, why not just let the parents and the brother and the family take care of Terri and let Michael, you know, go on his way?
GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Because Terri Schiavo is not a piece of property that can be given over to anyone. She's a young woman who the courts have determined did not want to be kept alive artificially. Those are her adjudicated constitutional rights, and the court has ordered that they be carried out. So even if Michael weren't her guardian, her removal of the feeding tube would have to take place.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about what Bobby just said, Terri's brother, about having her in a dark room? Is that true?
FELOS: Look, we've heard a lot of charges. We've heard them for years about Mr. Schiavo, and I'm not going to respond to each and every one of them. I'll just tell you what the appellate court…
VAN SUSTEREN: How about just that one?
FELOS: Let me finish. Let me tell you what the appellate court concluded after looking at all the evidence, that Mrs. Schiavo is blessed with a loving husband, Michael, who's done his utmost to care for her. It's simply not true that she's deprived of light. It's not true that she can't go outside. Terri has received excellent, excellent physical care over the years, and the reason for that is because she's had a loving, caring husband.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, in light of the Supreme Court's refusal to hear this case, and the Florida Supreme Court, as well, when's the soonest that the feeding tube, in your mind could, be removed from Terri?
FELOS: I think the soonest is probably two or three weeks. The whole religious liberty issue -- purported issue -- was rejected by the appellate court without even us filing a brief. It was a frivolous issue. The mandate from the appellate court will probably be issued within the next two or three weeks.
Of course, the parents keep filing these successive motions in court. They've raised these issues over and over again in a case that's lasted over seven years, and there is no legal merit or substance to these issues. And this case will eventually end when the courts say, We're not going to permit this abuse of the legal system anymore. We're not going to permit these delays and stays. It's been five years since the court said that Terri had a right to live free of a feeding tube, artificial life support. She's been force-fed against her will for five years, and it should stop.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, what is the prediction by the medical experts that when the feeding tube is removed, how long before she dies?
FELOS: Terri will die within 7 to 14 days. The un-rebutted medical evidence in court and the court's finding was that it's a painless death.
VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of Michael, what's his reaction to the refusal by the Supreme Court to hear this?
FELOS: Well, he was very gratified and happy to hear that. The decision of the Florida Supreme Court declaring "Terri's law" unconstitutional stands, and it's not only a victory for Terri but a victory for all of our civil liberties. I mean, the courts are saying that the governor of the state of Florida does not have the right to veto and overrule judicial decisions.
VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, this is a particularly troubling case that we've all been watching for many, many years. George, thank you.
FELOS: You're welcome.
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