Whip Hoyer on Congress Intervening in the Schiavo Case

mr. speaker, to close on our side, in the absence of our leader who is traveling overseas and unable TimeCode: 00:06:00.7 to be here, our whip, the ranking member of our side is on here. he gets all of our remaining time. the speaker: recognized for 2 1/2 minutes. mr. hoyer: thank you very much, TimeCode: 00:06:18.3 mr. speaker. this has been an extraordinarily serious debate. it has been, in many ways, a real debate. with each member rising, understanding the seriousness of the issues with which we consider. TimeCode: 00:06:31.9 on the one hand we consider the life of one young woman, a young woman struck by tragedy. shared by her family and by her friends and by her country. one of the striking facts of TimeCode: 00:06:53.6 american life and american culture is the great importance that america puts on the individual. one life, one swallow, a god cares for and plans for. TimeCode: 00:07:20.9 we are here as colleagues who have almost to a person experienced the same kind of TimeCode: 00:07:29.4 pain and trauma that the schiavo family now faces. the gentlelady from ohio correctly stated that terri is loved. TimeCode: 00:07:45.4 by her husband, by her parents, by her brother. by others in her family. those of us who have been in that place know how difficult it is. TimeCode: 00:08:01.2 i have not expected as my colleagues had not expected to be back in this house to consider this legislation. when we were called back by the speaker and the leader and i TimeCode: 00:08:15.7 discussed the circumstances under which the call would come, trying to accommodate members as best as possible. i did what i presume many of you did. i referred to the facts that i could find. TimeCode: 00:08:34.9 on the one hand my reaction was that i'm concerned. that we appear to be a congress that is flexible on the jurisdiction of courts. TimeCode: 00:08:53.0 when we agree with the decisions the courts make, we leave them jurisdiction. when we think they may make a decision that we want, we try TimeCode: 00:09:02.9 to give them additional jurisdiction. but when we disagree with the courts we've had legislation on this floor in recent months to take from them jurisdiction. if we pursue that course as a TimeCode: 00:09:21.8 country, i suggest to you that we will become a nation of men. and of politicians, not a nation of laws. the fact that we are a nation of laws has distinguished us very greatly from many other TimeCode: 00:09:37.3 nations of the word. and we have have held up that distinction as a critically important one. we now have troops arrayed in iraq to support that principle. of the individual, of freedom, TimeCode: 00:09:54.7 and of law. so i believe tonight, mr. speaker, that every member will vote on behalf of terri schiavo tonight. but they willsie their TimeCode: 00:10:11.5 responsibility and that act different -- but they will see their responsibility and that act differently. i believe, mr. speaker, they willsie it honestly and sincerely in realizing the duty they have by lifting their hand TimeCode: 00:10:27.5 and swearing oath to our constitution and to our country. so, mr. speaker, i did, as i said, what i suppose have done. i went to the proceedings that have occurred in the terri schiavo case. TimeCode: 00:10:42.4 caused by the absence of a written directive. i have three daughters mr. speaker, they are all adults. they do not live with me now but i see them regularly. TimeCode: 00:10:59.7 since their loss of their mother we have become even more close. and i heard congresswoman brown wait speak. and as i heard her speak i felt a tear. TimeCode: 00:11:16.4 when she referred to mr. wolfson, whom i do not know, but whose report i have read. mr. wolfson asked not by the mother and father, not by the husband, but by the state to try to determine as best he TimeCode: 00:11:37.6 could what the medical evidence led him to conclude. he was not an advocate of the parents or the husband. he perceived himself correctly TimeCode: 00:11:51.5 as the advocate of terri schiavo. his report is a compelling one. congresswoman brown-waite says chenaults mr. wolfson and knows him to be a man of wisdom and deep compassion and a sense of TimeCode: 00:12:09.1 responsibility. and then she spoke of her own daughter in such a condition. and the discussion she had with her daughter i hope many of you heard her say this. her daughter said to her that TimeCode: 00:12:24.7 if she was in that state she would not want to be left in that state by her mother. and she said, no, mom, if you really love me, you'd let me go to my rest and be with god. if i thought the florida courts TimeCode: 00:12:49.3 had dealt with this in a superficial and uncareful way, perhaps, perhaps i would feel that we ought to interpose our view. TimeCode: 00:13:08.4 no fair reading of the court's decision, the lower court, no fair reading of the disposition by the district court of the united states in which they TimeCode: 00:13:19.4 said in quoting judge altabrand of the supreme court of florida, not has mrs. schiavo's case gn given due process, but few, if any, similar cases have TimeCode: 00:13:35.4 ever been afforded this heightened level of process. this report is approximately 50 pages long that was issued by mr. wolfson. i urge my friend roy blunt to TimeCode: 00:13:51.0 read it. he said he had not. all of us ought to read it. this case tragically is not alone in the circumstances that have occurred. TimeCode: 00:14:05.8 the report says the schindler family members stated even if theresa had been told of her intention, the family members, mop and dad, have been told of TimeCode: 00:14:18.7 her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn they would not do it. all of us can understand that, hopefully. the wrenching decision that it would be for a parent to take an action which would TimeCode: 00:14:36.2 einevitably lead to the loss of life of their daughter. throughout this painful and difficult trial the family knowledged theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative TimeCode: 00:14:51.8 state. the report seems to indicate to me that any fair reading of it would say that very careful consideration had been given. i know that there are some doctors among us who have looked at reports and perhaps TimeCode: 00:15:10.2 looked at tapes and concluded contrary to the doctors who have examined her that this was not the case. the court however after an TimeCode: 00:15:27.8 evidentiary hearing and due consideration said clear and convincing evidence at the time of trial supported a determination that mrs. schiavo would have chosen in february, 2000, to withdraw the life prolonging procedures. TimeCode: 00:15:43.1 so that it has been concluded by all of the fact-finders in the court systems of the united states, in the state of florida under the statutes as the chairman has pointed out, TimeCode: 00:15:59.4 established by the state of florida, to deal with this extraordinarily difficult human issue because like birth death will come to us all. TimeCode: 00:16:14.9 to some of us it will come in a way that will not raise such wrenching questions, but some few of us will individually and with our families have to face TimeCode: 00:16:29.9 this decision. and properly the system should be followed to protect us so that neither a husband nor mother nor father nor anybody else can make that decision in a manner that is not fair, that TimeCode: 00:16:48.0 does not have due process, and does not protect us as individuals. in reading the record, mr. speaker, i have concluded that the state of florida in its wisdom provided for that process TimeCode: 00:17:06.7 and accomplished that end. because of that and because i care about our federal system, and because i care about our constitution, and yes, because i TimeCode: 00:17:22.7 care not knowing her individually because i care for her as a child of god. i believe that this legislation should not pass. TimeCode: 00:17:35.8 i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. sensenbrenner: mr. speaker, i yield the balance of my time to the majority leader, the gentleman from texas, mr. delay. the speaker: the distinguished majority leader is recognized. mr. delay: mr. speaker, i appreciate the gentleman from TimeCode: 00:17:57.3 maryland's words