For Immediate Release
Schindlers Ask 2nd DCA to Rehear “Papal” Appeal
Robert and Mary Schindler, parents of Theresa Schindler Schiavo, today asked the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, Florida, to have the entire court conduct a rehearing of a motion to reconsider what Terri’s end of life wishes would be today in light of a March 2004 Papal Declaration making it morally obligatory for Catholics to continue assisted feeding. The Schindlers are also requesting that the court conduct oral arguments and issue a written opinion in this case so that it could be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. On December 29, 2004, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision denying the motion to reconsider Terri’s end-of-life wishes in light of her religious faith.
The Schindlers request for a rehearing emphasizes the fact that the lower court violated the legal doctrine of “ecclesiastical abstention” when it took sides in a Church doctrinal dispute and ruled that the Papal Declaration did not apply to Terri. The law requires a court to defer to the religious doctrine made by the “highest ecclesiastical tribunal,” which in this case is the Pope. The Schindlers are also arguing that their daughter’s right to the free exercise of her religion is being denied since the order to remove Terri’s feeding tube is now an act that violates her Catholic faith. If the court of appeal were to issue a written opinion, the Schindlers could ask the Florida Supreme Court to review that decision.
Finally, the Schindlers have asked the court of appeals to certify a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court. The court has previously ruled that “matters involving a patient’s right to discontinue the provision of food and water are of great public importance.” The certified question would ask the Florida Supreme Court whether Terri is entitled to a hearing to determine what her end-of-life wishes would be today in light of the 2004 Papal Declaration establishing new Church doctrine that it is morally obligatory to continue assisted feeding.
A copy of this latest petition is available online.