POLITICO: Jeb Bush: Wouldn’t have changed anything in Schiavo case As originally appearing in Politico
BY JAMES HOHMANN
MANCHESTER, N.H.—Looking back 10 years, Jeb Bush said Friday he would not have handled the Terri Schiavo saga any differently.
“I don’t think I would have changed anything,” the former Florida governor told a woman who asked him about the case at a “Politics and Eggs” event put on by Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics.
Bush, gearing up for his presidential campaign, has faced renewed scrutiny over his role in the prolonged controversy from 2003 to 2005, during which a brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area became the subject of a contentious legal fight between her parents and her husband over whether to keep her on life support. Bush sided with the parents, who wanted to maintain a feeding tube. Ultimately, the husband — who remains deeply resentful of Bush — prevailed at the Supreme Court.
“I stayed within the constitutional responsibilities or authority that I had,” Bush told the crowd of local business leaders. “We changed the law first, and a year later it was ruled unconstitutional. Then basically, we didn’t have the ability to do anything. The federal government tried to intervene, and that was also ruled unconstitutional.”
“So she starved to death,” he went on, turning somber.
Bush offered support for a federal mandate of end-of-life directives.
“In hindsight, the one thing that I would have loved to have seen is an advance directive,” he said.
Not that he had control over it, but he said it would have been better if the family had sorted the tough questions out ahead of time, “rather than hearsay being the driver of this.”
“If we’re going to mandate anything from government, it might be that if you’re going to take Medicare that you also sign up for an advance directive,” he said, “where you talk about this before you’re so disabled that then there aren’t fights within the family.”
Bush said he “knew for a fact” that Schiavo’s parents “were more than happy to take over the care of this child.”
“I supported that,” he said. “I think life is precious. It’s the definition of what kind of society we have. From the beginning to the end, there should be some respect.”
“I feel sad,” he finished. “It was one of the most difficult things I had to go through. It broke my heart that we weren’t successful at sustaining this person’s life, so she could be loved by her mom and dad. But the courts decided otherwise, and I was respectful of that.”