What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Individual Rights : S. 686. Health Care/Vote on Bill to Grant Parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo the Right to Pursue in Federal Court Their Case to Have Her Feeding Tube Re-Inserted
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S. 686. Health Care/Vote on Bill to Grant Parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo the Right to Pursue in Federal Court Their Case to Have Her Feeding Tube Re-Inserted
house Roll Call 90     Mar 20, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

In this vote, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill to grant to the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo the right to pursue in federal court their case to have her feeding tube reinserted. Schiavo's case sparked national attention following years of legal battle between various family members concerning whether, due to her persistently vegetative state, her feeding tube ought to be removed and she should be allowed to die. Progressives objected strenuously to this legislation, noting that the Florida courts had already spoken in this matter and that Congress ought not to substitute the judgment of the federal courts simply because they did not like the outcome of the case as it emerged from the state court. Moreover, they argued, no one in Congress had had the opportunity or the ability to examine Schiavo medically, and Congress had no business intervening and substituting its judgment for that of Schiavo's husband, doctors or of the Florida courts. Republicans countered that Schiavo's case was a basic right-to-life case, and that it was both appropriate and necessary that Congress intervene where others would not in order to save Schiavo's life. The House passed the bill by a vote of 203 to 58, with 47 Democrats choosing to vote with the Republicans. Press reports at the time ascribe the low turnout for this vote to the fact that it was held on a Saturday, as well as reluctance by some representatives to openly oppose the Religious Right on this issue. Thus, the House set a precedent of both interjecting federal court jurisdiction into what had been a state court case and of inserting itself into the question of who has the right to make life-or-death medical decisions when someone is unable to make them him or herself.

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