Bush v. Schiavo
Florida Supreme Court
885 So. 2d 321 (2004)
After Theresa Schiavo had been in a vegetative state sustained by nutrition and hydration tubes for eight years, her husband, Michael Schiavo (plaintiff), petitioned the Florida guardianship court for authority to terminate Theresa’s artificial life support. Theresa’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, opposed Michael’s petition. The guardianship court determined after a trial that Theresa, who did not have a written advance directive, would have chosen to terminate life support if she was competent to make the decision herself. After the guardianship court’s decision was affirmed on appeal, Theresa’s nutrition and hydration tubes were removed on October 15, 2003. However, the tubes were replaced shortly thereafter when Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush (defendant) issued an executive order staying Theresa’s removal from life support pursuant to Chapter 2003-418 (the Act), which had been passed by the Florida legislature six days after Theresa was removed from life support. The Act authorized the governor to issue a stay where nutrition and hydration were withheld from a patient who, as of October 15, 2003: (1) did not have an advance directive, (2) was in a “persistent vegetative state,” (3) had been removed from hydration and nutrition life support, and (4) had family members who challenged that removal from life support. The governor’s authority was to expire fifteen days after the Act became effective. Michael challenged the executive order and stay and the circuit court granted summary judgment in his favor. Governor Bush appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pariente, C.J.)
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