Hundreds Rally for Terri with Roses

Hundreds of Christian and pro-life supporters of Terri Schiavo, a severely disabled woman at the center of one of the longest running right-to-life cases in American history, convened at the steps of Florida’s old Capitol for the “Rose Rally for Terri” event on Sunday, March 14, 2005.

With dozens of roses at hand and with knees bent in prayer, the mostly-religious protestors cried out for the state’s lawmakers to pass legislations that would prevent Friday’s court-ordered removal of Terri’s feeding tube.

Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who have been fighting to keep their daughter alive for nearly 7 years, thanked those who traveled from across and reminded them that “God is in charge.”

"As Friday approaches, the question we keep being asked is 'How do you feel?' We have faith," said Robert. "God is in charge. We're being supported by you people. We're so appreciative of what you're doing. "

Mary said she is trying to teach Terri how to say “I love you.”

"She can say the 'I,' but she's having trouble with the 'love you,'" she said. "She's doing OK. She's a strong lady."

The Schindlers have been locked in dozens of court-battles against Michael, Terri’s legal guardian and husband, over the custody and life of their daughter. Michael, who now lives with his girlfriend with whom he has fathered two children, refuses to divorce Terri and claims his wife did not wish to live on life-support.

The courts have generally been favorable to Michael – he twice succeeded in unplugging Terri’s tube – and have sided with him in declaring Terri a person in “persistent vegetative state (PVS)” with no chance for recovery. The Schindlers meanwhile believe that Terri, who never left a written will, did not want to be starved to death and that she is in a “minimally conscious state” with full potential for recovery.

In the latest court rulings, Pinellas Court Judge George Greer – the same judge who in 2000 ruled Terri is in PVS and should have her feeding tube removed – set a March 18 deadline to remove Terri’s tube. Greer also denied the Schindlers the right to take photographs with their daughter before her death and prevented members of the media from filming Terri at her hospice. Greer also prevented the Department of Children and Families from intervening in the case to investigate allegations of abuse.

In light of the setbacks at court, the Schindlers and Terri’s supporters turned toward lawmakers to turn the tables.

Currently, Florida lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation requiring doctors to provide nutrition and hydration to incapacitated patients who didn't leave specific instructions in advance. The measure, which is designed to be retroactive, would apply to Terri if passed.

Rally organizers, who gathered 1,000 long-stemmed roses for the event, said they will leave the roses out without water for 72 hours to show what happens to beautiful objects without hydration and nutrition.

The organizers will present the withered roses to legislators on Tuesday as a reminder of the Friday deadline.

Critics of the proposed law, including Michael’s attorney, fear the law would take away the “right-to-die” of those who left verbal wills.