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Terri Schiavo Case: Creditable Witnesses & the 1st Guardian
The Daily Standard ^ | November 04, 2003 | Wesley J. Smith

Posted on 11/04/2003 9:07:14 PM PST by flattorney

The Guardian - In 1998, Terri Schiavo's first guardian ad litem filed a report on her case. It makes for interesting reading today.

THE TERRI SCHIAVO CASE continues to take dramatic twists and turns. Even as Michael Schiavo attempts to have Terri's Law declared unconstitutional, pursuant to the law's requirements, a judge has appointed a guardian ad litem--Professor Jay Wolfson, of the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida in Tampa--to represent Terri's interests.

There has been some confusion as to whether Wolfson replaces Terri's quasi-estranged husband Michael Schiavo as guardian of Terri's person. (I use the term "quasi-estranged" because Schiavo effectively shattered the sanctity their marriage years ago by entering a committed relationship with another woman and starting a family with her.) He does not.

Wolfson's sole responsibilities are to determine whether Terri should be allowed a swallow test, whether she should be provided rehabilitation, and to write a report with his recommendations about these matters--all within 30 days. In the meantime, Schiavo remains fully in control over Terri' life and care (or the lack thereof)--with the exception that he cannot, for now, remove her tube-supplied food and water.

A little known but interesting facet of this case is that Wolfson is not the first guardian ad litem appointed to represent Terri's interests. When Schiavo first petitioned the court for permission to dehydrate his wife in 1998, he properly admitted that he had two significant conflicts of interest: He was likely to want to remarry and if Terri died, he would inherit the more than $700,000 then on deposit in her trust account. (For those who have not followed this case, Terri received the money in a medical malpractice lawsuit.)

Because of these conflicts of interest, the Probate Court appointed Richard L. Pearse Jr. of Clearwater, Florida, as Terri's guardian ad litem and instructed him to investigate the matter and report back with a recommendation. Pearse filed his report with the court on December 28, 1998 urging that the court deny the petition to remove Terri's food and water.

Considering that the Pearse's report was written long before the Schiavo case became an international cause celebre, it makes interesting reading. The guardian ad litem supported Schiavo's position on some points and the Schindlers on others. The following are its pertinent portions:

Pearse unambiguously accepted the diagnosis that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) based on the opinions of two doctors, one who treated her and one who consulted on the case. This diagnoses was--and remains-- disputed by Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. Indeed, subsequent to Pearse's report, the Schindlers energetically attempted to garner evidence that she is conscious.

To some degree, they have succeeded: Four board certified neurologists, two board certified internists, one neuro-psychologist, and two speech pathologists have testified in person or by affidavit that Terri is not PVS. These opinions were reinforced by the affidavits of three nurses who cared for Terri in the mid-1990s and who claim to have observed her being interactive. Moreover, millions have viewed videos of Terri and been shocked by the extent to which she appears to aware and awake. (The courts have ruled consistently that Terri is PVS.)

Pearse claimed that Terri has muscle contractures despite receiving "regular physical therapy." He may have assumed that she received such care--it is routine for bedridden patients, after all. Yet, according to Patricia Anderson, the Schindler's attorney, there are no entries indicating that PT was ever performed in Terri's chart after 1992. Indeed, in 1998, when a new doctor urged Schiavo to approve an evaluation of Terri so that a plan of physical therapy could be developed, he refused to permit it.

Pearse confirmed the charge by the Schindlers that once the medical malpractice money was in the bank, Schiavo began to refuse medical treatment for Terri, writing:

After February 1993, Mr. Schiavo's attitude concerning treatment for the ward apparently changed. Early in 1994, for example, he refused to consent to treat an infection from which the ward was then suffering and ordered that she not be resuscitated in the event of cardiac arrest. The nursing home where she resided at that time sought to intervene, which ultimately led the ward's husband to reverse his decision and authorize antibiotic treatment. Perhaps because of the intervention by the home, Schiavo soon moved Terri to a different nursing facility.

Schiavo admitted to the guardian ad litem that he had at least "two romantic involvements" after Terri's collapse. "It is apparent to me," Pearse wrote the court, "that he has reached a point that he has no hope of the ward's recovery and wants to get on with his own life." (To say the least. At the time of Pearse's investigation, Schiavo was already living with the woman who would become the mother of his children.)

Contrary to Schiavo's allegation on Larry King last week that the Schindlers "really basically didn't have any care with Terri," Pearse painted a vivid picture of parents worried deeply about the quality of care their daughter was receiving and profoundly committed to remaining involved in her life:

From the time of the ward's accident, the ward's parents have been vitally interested in her welfare . . . After the falling out between the ward's parents and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Schindler pursued removal litigation in an effort to have Mr. Schiavo removed as their daughter's guardian and to have themselves appointed guardians of her person . . . They have also pursued litigation against him to gain access to medical and financial information concerning the ward which was withheld by the ward's husband, with only partial success.

They express extreme frustration with the current situation in which they have virtually no input into the decision making process concerning their own daughter. The ward's parents visit her regularly but at times when they won't have to confront Mr. Schiavo. Moreover, rather than the Schindlers not being interested in seeing Terri, as was asserted on Larry King, Pearse noted that it was Schiavo who "has isolated the ward from her parents."

As of April 4, 1998, Terri's trust fund held $713,828.85. "Thus," wrote Pearse, "Mr. Schiavo will realize a substantial and fairly immediate financial gain if his application for withdrawal of life support [tube-supplied food and water] is granted." (Schiavo now claims that there is only $50,000 left in the account, the bulk of the money having gone to pay his attorneys.)

At the time of the report, only Schiavo claimed that Terri would not wish to be kept alive if severely incapacitated. "However," Pearse opined, "his credibility is necessarily adversely affected by the obvious financial benefit to him of being the ward's sole heir at law in the event of her death while still married to him. Her death also permits him to get on with his own life." (Subsequent to the filing of the report, and perhaps in response to it, Schiavo's brother and sister-in-law came forward to claim Terri made similar statements in their presence. In this regard it is worth noting that no member of Terri's family, or any of her friends, recall her ever making any such statements to them.)

Pearse concluded, "Given the inherent problems already mentioned, together with the fact that the ward has been maintained the life support measures sought to be withdrawn for the past 8 years, it is the recommendation of the guardian ad litem that the petition for removal be denied."

UNFORTUNATELY, Pearse's opinion held scant sway with the court. After filing his report, he requested further court instructions to authorize him to continue to represent Terri as guardian ad litem. Schiavo's attorney, George Felos objected, and attempted to have Pearse removed for bias. This attempt failed but after his report was received, Pearse was discharged from participating any further in the case. And despite Schiavo's continuing conflicts of interest--which only deepened on the personal level as he sired children--no other guardian ad litem was ever appointed to represent Terri during the years of litigation, proceedings that culminated in an October 15, 2003 court order requiring Terri Schiavo to be deprived of all water and food toward the end that she dehydrate to death. ----------- Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. His current book is the updated and revised "Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder."

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: felos; greer; pearse; schiavo; schindler; terri; terrischiavo; wolfson
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This thread is to discuss Schiavo Case Witnesses - Creditable, Not Creditable, Conspiracy Against Witnesses, Your Thoughts and Facts
1 posted on 11/04/2003 9:07:15 PM PST by flattorney
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To: flattorney
This thread is to discuss Schiavo Case Witnesses - Creditable, Not Creditable, Conspiracy Against Witnesses, Your Thoughts and Facts

BTW, has anyone posted a thread about Terri's guardianship hearing tomorrow?

2 posted on 11/04/2003 9:10:37 PM PST by supercat (Why is it that the more "gun safety" laws are passed, the less safe my guns seem?)
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To: flattorney
Read Complete Report of Guardian Ad Litem
Richard L. Pearse, Jr, Attorney at Law
In Re: The Guardianship of Theresa Schiavo
Probate Case # 90-2908GD-003
3 posted on 11/04/2003 9:17:27 PM PST by flattorney
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To: flattorney
Hello, and welcome to FreeRepublic - an interesting first post for your first day!

Very nice article by the Daily Standard... the conflict of interest angle only STARTS with Michael Schiavo, but it does not end with him.
4 posted on 11/04/2003 9:29:25 PM PST by dandelion
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To: flattorney
Thanks for link to GAL Pearse's report. Have been hoping for a look at that (-- too late for me tonight but am bookmarking for tomorrow).
5 posted on 11/04/2003 9:34:42 PM PST by shhrubbery!
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To: dandelion
Very nice article by the Daily Standard

Whenever Wesley J. Smith addresses this subject, he positively ROCKS.

6 posted on 11/04/2003 9:43:29 PM PST by drlevy88
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To: flattorney
Although arguable, there's more than enough credibility here to suggest resistance to the rush to kill this woman.
7 posted on 11/04/2003 9:55:36 PM PST by RLK
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To: flattorney
Four board certified neurologists, two board certified internists, one neuro-psychologist, and two speech pathologists have testified in person or by affidavit that Terri is not PVS. These opinions were reinforced by the affidavits of three nurses who cared for Terri in the mid-1990s and who claim to have observed her being interactive.

great post. thanks.

THIS COURT is criminal. It ONLY listens to the testimony of Michael and his friends.

This court TRUSTS MICHAEL (that they were happily married, and NOT about to divorce)
This court TRUSTS MICHAEL (that he did not strangle her)
This court TRUSTS MICHAEL (that she had bulemia)
This court TRUSTS MICHAEL (that Terri would prefer to die)

... here are TERRI's OWN WORDS:

" Where there's life, there's hope."
      -Terri Schiavo (angrily SUPPORTING the comatose being kept ALIVE)
8 posted on 11/04/2003 9:58:55 PM PST by Future Useless Eater (Freedom_Loving_Engineer)
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To: FL_engineer
9 posted on 11/05/2003 3:47:20 AM PST by GailA (Millington Rally for America after action
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To: flattorney
Good grief, Mary Jo Malone says Richard Pearse has changed his stance and no longer opposes the removal of Terri's feeding tube!

An insider shifts his stance on removing Schiavo's feeding tube

By MARY JO MELONE, Times Staff Writer
Published November 6, 2003

On the crowded stage where the melodrama about Terri Schiavo is played, Richard Pearse Jr. had a smallish role.

The Clearwater lawyer served as Schiavo's guardian ad litem for a year, from the middle of 1998 to 1999. His job was to represent the young woman's interests in one of the hearings where Schiavo's husband sought removal of her feeding tube.

Pearse investigated her case. He interviewed her relatives. He read the medical records.

Then, in December 1998, he recommended to the judge that the feeding tube remain.

His reasons have become familiar to us all:

Terri Schiavo's own wishes were unclear.

Her husband had a substantial conflict of interest, Pearse said. If the tube were removed and she died, Michael Schiavo stood to inherit $700,000 left over from a malpractice settlement. Pearse also was troubled by Schiavo's conduct. He had stopped trying to get therapy for his wife after the money came through, Pearse said.

Pearse also noted that Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had a potential conflict. If Michael divorced his wife and the Schindlers took over her care, they would stand to inherit the $700,000.

Pearse's recommendations went into the thick file of the Schiavo case. January 2000 brought a weeklong trial. When it ended, Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer drew other conclusions. Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, he said. There was no doubt of that. Her feeding tube could be removed.

I went back to Pearse earlier this week because the feeding tube is still the issue of the hour. The intervention of the governor and Legislature saw to that.

I wanted to test the strength of my own opinions. Was I wrong to side with Michael Schiavo?

Was I missing something more clear to somebody on the inside of the case, like Pearse?

Well, yes, I was. I didn't know that Pearse's views had changed since 1998. He no longer opposes the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

Here's why:

Most of the medical testimony, given at trial and after Pearse issued his recommendations, concluded she would never recover.

The primary reason for Michael Schiavo's conflict of interest is gone. Only about $50,000 of the original $700,000 settlement remains. The rest reportedly went to Terri Schiavo's care and legal fees.

The case itself has been closely scrutinized by judge after judge, and their findings have been unanimous. The judges thought they knew what Terri Schiavo would have wanted.

They also found Michael Schiavo credible. Even with a conflict of interest, Pearse said, he could be right about his wife's wishes.

One day, this all must stop.

Pearse has a word for what is needed.


That's what courts are supposed to provide, Pearse said. They are supposed to sort through our biggest disputes and put them to rest.

Once the governor and Legislature stepped in and pushed through Terri's Law, the courts were denied their usual role.

Pearse called the law stunningly bad policy.

Note to the GOP: Pearse is a Republican.

He predicted, as others have, that Terri's Law will be struck down as unconstitutional, a case of unequal protection under the law. The concept means that it's illegal to give Terri Schiavo a right that others don't get. Terri's Law was written to cover her situation and hers alone.

The fight now is on two fronts.

In one court case, Michael Schiavo mounts a challenge to Terri's Law, before Pinellas Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird.

The other battle is before Judge Greer, as it has been for years. Terri Schiavo's parents are asking, as they have repeatedly, for the ouster of Michael Schiavo as his wife's guardian. Like Pearse, the rest of us can only watch.

- You can reach Mary Jo Melone at or 813 226-3402.

10 posted on 11/06/2003 6:04:40 AM PST by msmagoo
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To: msmagoo
The primary reason for Michael Schiavo's conflict of interest is gone. Only about $50,000 of the original $700,000 settlement remains. The rest reportedly went to Terri Schiavo's care and legal fees.

WHAT? So because Schiavo did exactly what the guardian ad litem was afraid he would do - use the money for his own interests - now it's ok to kill her. Yeah right.

11 posted on 11/06/2003 6:51:25 AM PST by agrace
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To: agrace
I can't quite follow the logic - even if most of Terri's rehab funds are gone, MS still has a substantial interest in "helping" Terri die, so he can marry Jody as a widower, instead of as a divorced man (against her religion, according to some posters.) Also if she dies, he inherits all of her marital estate, meaning the house and any investments made with her settlement. So while he had a greater financial incentive to see her die back when there was $ 700,000 in her fund, he still stands to benefit enough from her death that it poses a conflict of interest.
12 posted on 11/06/2003 1:01:01 PM PST by msmagoo
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To: msmagoo
Good points. And I don't follow it either. Considering her known bias, I'd love to read a verbatum transcript of her conversation with him.
13 posted on 11/06/2003 1:13:00 PM PST by agrace
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To: agrace
From her previous articles, her bias is evident. Pearse's testimony before the court corroborates the same issues raised in the Schindler's latest petition. True, Terri's fund has diminished and her condition is unchanged, but neither Melone nor Pearse acknowledges WHY the fund has diminished, though surely both know that Felos has been paid $ 400,000 for legal fees to "help" carry out Terri's execution.

Likewise, Terri's unchanged condition absent any rehabilition (as ordered by the court) can be viewed as evidence of Michael's continuing neglect, rather than an affirmation of Terri's hopeless, terminal condition, as Melone quoting Pearse would have us believe.

There's two sides to every story and I think Melone picks and chooses her "facts" to support her kill-Terri POV.
14 posted on 11/06/2003 7:02:59 PM PST by msmagoo
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To: msmagoo
It's nothing but one hard to believe thing after another, after another, after another, etc, etc, etc. Also... considering the mystery surrounding what happened to all the money... I kinda sorta get the impression that Greer, and now Pearse, were paid off by Mikey so he can "legally" kill her!!! It's still beyond belief that he would pay $500,000 to his lawyers merely to get them to find a way to kill his wife!!!

The whole thing STINKS to high Heaven!!! And frankly... knowing what I now know about Mikey and his motives for wanting Terri dead and immediately cremated, I'm beginning to doubt that she can ever be saved!!!


15 posted on 11/06/2003 8:16:56 PM PST by GeekDejure (<H3> Searching For The Meaning Of "Huge" Fonts !!!</H3>)
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To: flattorney; supercat; shhrubbery!; msmagoo
Umm, there is a second thread on the Mary Jo article I posted at. Would rather post here. Might provide better go-forward basis.

Flattorney - Thanks for great thread start. I must have received 50 emails from people wanting the complete Attorney Pearse’s GAL Affidavit since I/we wrote about it on another thread.

Here is what I posted on the other Mary Jo Article thread, see what you think in this matter:

1...Cannot trust anything Mary Jo Melone has to say about this case. She has no credibility with the facts IMO.

2...Key Schindler Group people in Terri’s Case should still contact Attorney Pearse. However, he still may not help as he has other issues here, but worth the effort. Pearse had many other comments in his GAL Affidavit regarding Michael, other than the $700k money issue. Most newer people to this Case have never read his full ten page GAL Affadavit.

Pearse is probably not aware of the recent facts involving how Michael utilized this money. I/we, well understand the “legal loopholes” that Michael-Felos-Greer are utilizing to use Terri’s Trust money to pay legal fees. I/we/our attorney’s still think it is illegal, and a violation of the Malpractice Settlement Agreement and the responding Trust Agreement. I have included Attorney Pearse’s public available information as attached below for anyone interested.

3...Regarding Attorney Pearse’s comments in Mary Jo’s current article - The Inside Skinny:

I live in Miami and understanding Florida laws and “backwoods” politics very well. See my FR personal profile for more info, if this is your pleasure. No disrespect intended, but many FR poster’s on the Terri Schiavo Case do not understand the many extreme complexities and “backwoods” politics involved here and accordingly they reach erroneous and/or emotionally driven conclusions. Again not trying to be demeaning, this is just one of the most complex Cases, overall, I have seen in almost thirty years. This Case has broad reaching ramifications that affects the entire County, our U.S. Healthcare policies in this matter, the positions of the American Medical Association, and the positions of the Florida Department of Health.

Florida “Powers” didn’t want this Terri Schiavo Case to spill into the National media spotlight. They tried everything possible to sweep this deal under the carpet and even Washington was involved. Most people have no idea how close the “Powers” came to being successful in sweeping Terri’s demise under the carpet and shrugging their shoulders, saying “we did all we could”. However, through a lot of hard work, and God’s grace, Terri’s Law got passed. Once again, trust me, you have no idea how close Terri’s Bill/Law came to be defeated, and if the Terri’s Right-To-Life Movement had to do it again next week, we would not be successful this time.

NOTE:-It’s interesting all the organizations around the U.S. taking credit for making Terri’s Law a reality. Yet I have not seen one forum post, or a National or Local media article, on the one organization who really put that Terri’s Bill over the top. Without that ONE organization, Terri’s Bill would have never happened, much less become Law. (No, I am not taking about us, we don’t have that kind of horsepower, never will)

It is a 99% foregone conclusion, by the Floridian “heavy weights in the know” that Terri’s Law will be struck down by the Florida Courts. There are many valid reasons for this that I will not delineate in this particular post. This still doesn’t mean it is going to happen, but the odds highly favor it. The Floridian “old-line” Judges, the Florida Bar Association, the Clearwater Bar Association, and others want Terri’s Law nullified for a “political message” to “certain people”. Also Florida has the most liberal Supreme Court in the County, and some of the most strict-liberal Right-To-Privacy and Right-To-Die laws in the Country. Why do you think that the National Right-To-Die maggots(IMO) picked this Schiavo Case as a National Test Case. It wasn’t an accident or because they like fresh orange juice.

I/we have seen many people like Attorney Pearse, change their public, but not private, opinion on the Terri Schiavo Case since Terri’s Law was signed by Governor Bush. I am not questioning this attorney’s credibility whatsoever. I am just stating that unfortunately they are much bigger forces/currents involved here that just Terri’s Life or Death Interest. It’s a very sad fact, but nevertheless a fact. I wish some people could wake up before it’s too late.....probably 4-5 ways Terri's Case can still be lost.

Interesting, Attorney Pearse, made a different statement in the press on this subject, just four weeks ago...of course the "trade winds" changed.

These larger agenda’s create great danger to the lesser informed......

Florida Bar Attorney Profile-OnLine Public Information
Richard Lee Pearse Jr
FBA 282723
Member in Good Standing
1239 S Myrtle Ave
Clearwater Florida 33756-3469
Phone: 727/462-9009
Fax: 727/449-2205
County: Pinellas
Circuit: 06
Admitted: 10/22/1979
Board Certification:
Elder Law, General Practice Solo and Small Firm, Real
Property Probate and Trust Law, Trial Lawyers Members
in Good Standing.
16 posted on 11/07/2003 10:48:40 AM PST by saveterri1 (Terri’s Fight, It’s a "Blood War" * Mikey-Felos & Co.–They're Goin Down!!!)
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To: flattorney
Nov. 7, 2003

Terri Schiavo Case: Gov. Bush Asks To Meet New Guardian
17 posted on 11/07/2003 1:34:10 PM PST by flattorney
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To: saveterri1
Thanks for your insight into the behind the scenes machinations, and would be interested in your response to this very timely column written by one of the co-sponsors of Terri's Bill in the House, Frank Attkisson:

Law shouldn’t be used to take away a life

As I see it

By Frank Attkisson

Recently, the Florida Legislature became involved with the Terri Schiavo situation. Because of the significance of the case, and as a prime co-sponsor in the Florida House of the resulting bill, I want to share my view and reasoning for my support of the bill.

Initially, most would look at this as a judicial issue and feel that the Legislature should stay out of it. In this case, we must examine the laws that the courts have interpreted to see if we, as Floridians, truly want these laws controlling our families and individuals in the matter of death.

As I looked at the case I saw three troubling issues.

First, an individual having the responsibility for life or death decisions with regard to a family member must be unbiased and without conflict in the process. The allegation of money being left for the surviving spouse in this case shows a potential conflict of interest that should be removed.

Second, it is known that Mr. Schiavo has a fiancée who has been living with him for at least the last 6 years and who will soon bear a second child fathered by him.

What woman would want an individual making life or death decisions when they have to factor in their statutory responsibilities to other children they have fathered during the illness. This at least calls for an independent guardian ad litem to review the situation, which is what this legislation does. What woman would want an adulterous husband who has been living in this situation for the past 6 years making a life or death decision on her behalf? She is not capable of asking for a divorce, much less requesting another guardian.

Third, Florida’s contract law doesn’t allow verbal promises or intent to overcome specific wording of a contract or for an individual to make a verbal statement of his intent to leave assets to an individual; in this case, life is at stake instead of property and our statutes permit oral statements to determine whether someone lives or dies. Yet, in this case we allow a simple statement made following an emotional movie some 15 years ago to be a controlling factor of the individual’s intent and the statement was not even mentioned in the previous law suit when he stated he would care for her until she dies.

Family members must be allowed to make personal decisions concerning their loved ones when their loved ones are not able to make the decisions on their own. We owe it to the individual to ensure that the decision maker is unbiased and free of conflict when he or she must make the call.

The facts raised enough questions that the Legislature felt compelled to act to make sure our most vulnerable citizens have every opportunity to live and have rehabilitation in the absence of a written advanced directive stating their wishes. The life God gives us is precious and governmental laws should never be used to take it in this situation.

Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee, is state representative for District 79, which covers portions of Okeechobeee, Orange and Osceola counties.

18 posted on 11/07/2003 1:35:37 PM PST by msmagoo
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To: saveterri1
Hi "Harv". Do you have any links to information that proves your PAC for Terri is a valid or real organization? I have to say I doubt the validity of everything you are saying, because I have no proof of what you say , nor do you offer any way to validate any of your statements. In fact there is no trace of your organization on the web....

I/ we do not belive you, Harv.

Could you prove yourself to the fine freepers here please? I think we would all agree that while you call most of the freepers here posting on Terri's case ignorant of the facts, we indeed do like people ,who claim to be "experts" ,to be able to back up what they say.

You refuse to do so.. why?

We/I are waiting ... Will you run and hide again ,or answer the question?

19 posted on 11/07/2003 4:37:56 PM PST by Diva Betsy Ross ((were it not for the brave, there would be no land of the free -))
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To: saveterri1
OK, ok, ok, we hear you, we hear you, we hear you over and over, you're skeptical.

Fine. Warning taken. But you don't need to keep shaking it in our faces. If you do, you will get the same treatment that the ghouls do.
20 posted on 11/07/2003 4:39:13 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck ("Across this great nation people pray -- do not put out her flame" -- DFU. Go Godsquad!!!)
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